The user experience has become the essential entry point for all applications, both personal and professional. Initially meant to ensure the engagement of employees and managers, the user experience has become the key element for improving the efficiency of HR applications. Our HR information systems have now entered the age of HR 3.0.
To meet these new challenges, traditional methods, as agile as they may be, are only useful for focusing on data: What data do users need? How do they input this data? How do they check it? How do they process it? How do they store it? How do they view it?
The user experience, however, is based on an approach focusing on use: why do users need this data? How do they obtain it? What is the purpose of processing it? What is the environment? What does the user do before and after interacting with this data? What does the user require to be efficient when interacting with this data?
To do this, we had to create a new method that encourages new ways of thinking: “think outside the box” instead of simply “reproducing what already exists”. This new method is known as DESIGN THINKING.
Design Thinking is not only a new method, but also a new way to handle projects
Design Thinking is an approach that focuses on the user and thus on people, and is based on empathy to encourage innovation and creativity through collective intelligence.
This method, which includes solution-based practices such as Impact Mapping, Innovation Games, Solution Focus, Lean Startups and Journey Maps, is more than just a set of tools that can be used once as part of a project. To get the most out of such an approach, it is best to implement its philosophy and values on an overall basis.
Creating teams with people from various disciplines is a key factor for promoting innovation as this forces them to listen to each other, learn from each other and challenge each other outside their comfort zones. It encourages the use of ideas from one field to another and promotes open-mindedness. Alternating between divergent and convergent thinking within such a team will tend to produce innovative ideas.
It is also better to describe solutions through illustrations rather than verbally. Showing, rather than explaining, makes it easier to understand the solution offered and allows you to better grasp how users will accept or reject the solution.
‘Test & Learn’ is a technique used with the Design Thinking approach. To achieve this, prototyping in the initial phases will be the main theme throughout the project. Demonstrations, with the use of prototypes by future users, will confirm or reject the concepts presented. It is important to not overly focus on success, but allow for, and even encourage, failure, which should eliminate problems early in the process.
In addition, unlike traditional project management methods, each step in the process should not be isolated. To keep the experience fluid and consistent, the participants should keep the overall process in mind when finding ideas or making suggestions. The experience as a whole must be dealt with.
Now that the philosophy and principles of Design Thinking have been described, what are the steps in the process?
This first step is essential in understanding the users and their issues. Empathy - becoming completely immersed in the user experience - is the key to the success of a future solution. Observing and interacting with behavior in real situations will allow us to identify with users to better understand them and thus imagine better solutions.
Defining the design space by determining the problem that needs to be solved. This allows us to limit the design scope to realistic proportions. The goal is to focus the team on a key phrase that will be the theme for step 3: Ideate.
In this step, you concentrate on generating ideas to widen the scope of possibilities to meet users’ needs. Here we create divergence between participants in workshops and then converge towards a solution. Openness, innovation, creativity are all keywords in this phase.
Prototyping a previously defined solution allows you to turn it into a fully conceived plan. This is the critical moment in the Design Thinking process. It allows you to get a quick idea of the solution’s impact. Will it work and how will it work? In this step, the actual implementation of the solution is much more efficient than a long list of requirements that each person can interpret differently.
The prototype must be tested on users to obtain their opinions. The solution can thus be refined by determining how the users will be implementing it. Such ‘in-the-field’ evaluation of concepts ensures a design that focuses on interaction between the user and the solution. Testing, learning and correcting are the key concepts in this phase.
Applying Design Thinking, making sure to implement all the steps as well as the philosophy and values, provides a new way of thinking and designing our applications.
Digital transformation encourages us to be more imaginative and review how we act and interact with customers. It forces us to rethink how we work.
Through Design Thinking, we can develop more efficient solutions, based on people rather than data and technology.
Thierry Jordan, Sopra HR Lab Manager
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