Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Track 4 Session 3
Wednesday, 05/Aug/2020:
1:30pm - 2:25pm

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(Re)Framing the Future: has Covid-19 handed us The New Normal?

Gina Bowman1, Lynn Heather Crawford2

1Gedeth Network, Spain; 2The University of Sydney, Australia

Complexity had become the new normal until early 2020 when an airborne, species-jumping virus exploded the collective concept of normality, and the world was forced to function on the shifting sands of a new pandemic.

The complex environment of the Covid-19 pandemic was used to undertake a qualitative narrative study that explored the following questions: Has Covid-19 handed us the conditions on a societal level to collectively reframe the future and deliver a New Normal? How do narrative tools and processes support this reframing? And, applying this to project management, how can project teams learn to develop future-oriented collective cognitive frames to better manage the uncertainty characteristic of complex projects?

A content analysis of 100 media stories was undertaken, followed by a frame analysis, to study the media discourse surrounding the pandemic. The results illustrate an ongoing reframing process occurred as people tried to make sense of the velocity and flux inherent to Covid-19, which represented the symbiotic relationship between the media stories and the socio-cognitive frames that emerged during the pandemic.

This article is a continuation of ongoing research into the management of complex projects and the development of narrative tools and that processes that facilitate problem solving and innovation..

The adaptive organization: using design’s prototyping practices to innovate in complex contexts

Niya Stoimenova1, Christine de Lille2

1Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands; 2The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands

Organizations need to continuously innovate and adapt to their complex ever-changing contexts. Yet, most existing innovation practices do not work in complex sociotechnical contexts and often result in ad-hoc oriented management practices. Much has been written on the requirements that such practices need to fulfill. Nevertheless, little guidance (practical or theoretical) exists on viable ways to ensure they can be successfully implemented. The design practice of prototyping can provide the needed guidance due to its ability to identify and address ontological uncertainty. In this paper we introduce a set of dimensions that should be considered as the field of Design moves from prototyping products and services to prototyping complex systems. The dimensions are explained and exemplified through the lenses of our work within a large international airline where we carried out an eleven-month longitudinal process study. During these months, we helped a team of four people to develop and implement a new innovation practice through continuous use of prototyping and involving passengers, the airline’s employees and other departments within the firm. This allowed us to track and reflect upon the specificities and complexities surrounding the notion of prototyping and implementing an innovation practice.

Meaning Innovations with Design Support: Towards Transparency and Sustainability in the IT field

Tarja Pääkkönen, Melanie Sarantou, Satu Miettinen

University of Lapland, Finland

This interdisciplinary article views meaning innovations as socially constructed and reflects on designing in the context of potential harmful consequences within information technology (IT) contexts. In the shift from products towards services, digital platforms and technology designers have gained a mediating and more strategic role while developing multiple connections and interactions between products, touchpoints, users and suppliers. The design manager is involved in organisational strategizing and innovating. Following key principles of design, the context of all those affected by design should be considered. Meaning innovations may emerge when designers facilitate, partially guide and are guided by strategic goals and innovation discourses in organisational settings in conjunction with numerous others. Based on a literature review and reflection on empirical findings, this article suggests paths for designing meaningfulness through an exploration of material lifecycles, digital content, algorithms and data transparency in digital contexts. The concept of meaning innovation is suggested to encourage organisations to reflect on decisions regarding responsibility, sustainability and transparency beyond the mainstream customer focus leading to improved organizational sensemaking and decisions, supported by design.

A design thinking approach to change management

Hal Wuertz, Scott Eshbaugh, Sarah B. Nelson


Our 110-year-old technology company is once again transforming and a key driver in that change is design. In 2012, IBM's CEO initiated a global challenge: to create a sustainable culture of design and design thinking at IBM, reinvigorating the company’s legendary design program and kicking off a multi-year transformation effort. Over the proceeding five years, The Design Program Office (DPO) at IBM took shape, hiring 2,500 designers, building 50+ global design studios, and developing enterprise-specific practices, the pinnacle of which, is Enterprise Design Thinking.

In 2017, the DPO faced a pivotal moment in the program. After five years of change and 150,000 design thinking badges, there remained one stalwart hold out: sales. Wrapped up in quarterly cycles and nonplussed by internal change initiatives, sales remained relatively untouched by the design program. Design research probes revealed that while every other part of the business—from HR to the CEOs office—had adopted design thinking techniques, most sellers couldn't even define design thinking. The lack of adoption in sales was distressing and painfully ironic—because sales had the potential to be the most powerful part of IBM's design transformation story. Our experience had shown that when client engagements were led with design thinking, they were the most enduring, most lucrative and highest client-rated experiences we delivered. Design thinking was how our clients wanted to engage, and we needed sales teams who could do so. And so, the DPO set about using all the transformation know-how we had, to crack the nut of how to bring design thinking to this unusual audience.

In this paper we present new tactics in transformation, applicable to any change program. First, the use of transformation personas in order to understand a new organization. Second, the role of 'cycles of behavior' in teams, and the value of this frame for behavior adoption. Third, our use of habits in order to modify the behavior of a fast-moving organization. And fourth, our most successful methods for tracking and measuring behavioral change.

This paper also outlines a set of insights on change management, illuminated by design-thinking. Unlike other company transformation stories, the Design Program Office at IBM uses the message as the medium. Enterprise Design Thinking, IBM’s design thinking home-brew, is both the what and the how of the company’s design transformation. Using Kotter's 8 step change model as a baseline, we show how a design-thinking-led approach is the key to fast-paced, meaningful change. Design thinking, provides us with a practical way of navigating complex organizational change, and enables a dynamic approach to an organizations shifting needs.

Today, nearly every single one of IBM's largest accounts has started using design thinking techniques in how they show up to clients. During the program we tracked not only behavior change in these account teams, but increased sales funnels, improved win rates, and most importantly, more well-crafted user-focused deals. The success of this program demonstrates how massive organizational change, even at the scale of IBM, can and should be maneuvered through fast, human-centric, just-enough qualitative research – methods that are essential for change programs of any kind today.

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