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How Design Value Index can aid digital product development (Includes first-hand account)

Digital transformation isn’t so much about technology, it is about the effective design of the technology to suit the intended objective and then altering the workplace culture so that the technology and vision can be realized. There are different tools and processes that can aid the process; one such tool is the ‘design value index’. This tool was mapped out at a training center delivered by Accenture staff at the company’s London offices (within Plantation Court).

What is design?

As to what design is, design is a method of problem solving, this could be something as simple as a chair to a digital revamp of a business process. An important first phase is developing the vision and strategy, and this is what the training session discussed here focused on.

A breakout area at Accenture s London offices.

A breakout area at Accenture’s London offices.

Most people think they are not creative, the design value index uses a concept where most people involved in the process can become design thinkers. The end result is to for a solution to emerge that has not been thought of before.

Design Value Index

The design value tool is best implemented in a group, made up of representatives of a business from different functions. When it works well it can aid a business in becoming more agile and developing products that will actually work.

A 3D printer on show at Accenture s London offices.

A 3D printer on show at Accenture’s London offices.

Not only can the design value index process help to deliver a product that customers actually want, there is evidence that those companies that adopt the process do better in business. This is in tune with the culture change required to initiate digital transformation: there is a necessity for people in the organization to adopt new processes, together with ways of working, and different approaches to break down departmental differences and, perhaps most importantly, find a renewed way to related to customers.

Industry X.0 means continual improvement. Sign at Accenture  London.

Industry X.0 means continual improvement. Sign at Accenture, London.

Design value looks at three core elements: technology (which is connected to feasibility); businesses (which is linked to viability); and the human (which is linked to desirability, producing something the customer wants). The ideal place, when these elements are arranged in a Venn diagram, is in the center.

Design Value Index Venn diagram  drawn in Microsoft Word.

Design Value Index Venn diagram, drawn in Microsoft Word.

Why the process works

The advantage of the process, which was developed by David Kelly of Stanford University, is that it builds rapport between team members; it focuses on the end the user; it orientates the process so that the focus is on the most important problems; and it can leverage a change in thinking.

An open office area at Accenture s London base.

An open office area at Accenture’s London base.

To get there, the process needs to be mapped. This can begin with identifying the key stake holders, and assessing what their beliefs are, what goals they might expect and what the pain points are for them (such as the manufacturing manager doesn’t want to hear bad news from the quality department, whereas quality do not want to see the rate of defects fall outside the pre-set key performance indicator).

In terms of the process leading up to mapping, design to value indexes require thoughts to be captured visually, using differently colored Post-it notes or pens. If something isn’t captured then there’s either wasted energy, because an important thought or point is forgotten about and not taken forwards; or there’s a consensus not to do so.

Capturing ideas

The thought or data capture process is described as ‘brainwriting’, which is connected to the process of thinking-writing-saying, culminating with design thoughts to be shared with the group. Where thoughts or ideas are recorded, it is important that only one thought is recorded at any one time, and that the statement recorded is succinct.

Constructing a process map is key to the development of a new digital product.

Constructing a process map is key to the development of a new digital product.

From this a process of realizing a digital innovation can be mapped out, capturing key steps and elements of complexity. This is not only important for selecting which ideas to take forwards, this step means that design is clearly built into the structure and processes of the organization ready for later development.

Cultural shifts

Another important cultural change is to shift from arguing about what is, to figuring out how. In relation to the different ideas captured with the brainwriting process, ideas are best progressed to the next stage through group voting – so that the final ideas belong to the group as a whole. Different criteria can be used, such as ‘ease of implementation’, ‘meeting customer satisfaction’, or ‘likely to generate growth’. Ideas which are promising but where there are potential obstacles can also be called out, such as one related to an aspect of automation ‘robotics will decrease labor but is the time to develop too long’.

A chill out zone at Accenture s London office.

A chill out zone at Accenture’s London office.

With the how, the development of the product may need to go through several iterations, such as ‘how do we achieve the goal?’, ‘what is the process?’, and ‘what does success look like?’

Putting this different elements together, even with just one day of training, it’s interesting to see how ideas can be given depth and structure, and how the key steps required can be identified and tasks focused. Moat importantly, with the design value approach, cultural shifts can occur – of the type necessary to make digital transformation a success.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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