Written by Heather Stagl
How do design thinking and change management intersect? Can one expand the impact of the other… and vice versa?
Design thinking applies the principles of human-centered design. Its focus is to develop innovative processes, systems, products, and services, to improve human (customer, employee, etc.) experience. It is used to come up with the solution of WHAT to implement. Sometimes missing from the design thinking process is implementation and adoption of the thing that was designed.
Change management is also a human-centered activity. Change agents promote engagement and consider people’s experience to plan the implementation. It is used to implement new processes, systems, products, and services. The focus of change management is HOW to implement the solution. Sometimes missing from change management is engaging people in the design of the thing that will be implemented. Usually, by the time change managers are brought in, the project has already been decided.
The Venn diagram above illustrates how well these two fields can fit together. Both fill in a gap left by the other. Design thinking brings people into the development of what will be implemented, and change management enables something that has been designed to be adopted.
Solidifying the relationship between these two disciplines is what they already have in common. Besides being human-centered, both focus on delivering a new way of working. They start with WHY change must happen, and conduct research to better understand people’s experience. And both promote collaboration and engagement as a way of getting things done.
There is also much that the two fields can learn from each other. For example, change management can become even more human-centered and innovative by adopting design thinking principles. And design thinking can learn how to design with adoption in mind from the start.
Stay tuned for more explorations of these concepts.
Author Heather Stagl is an expert in change management and implementation, a coach and trainer, and DTG’s newest team member.