Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report boldly advises HR to adopt design thinking, placing the employee experience at the center.
With an intended goal of simplifying the complex, design thinking is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods. Design thinking is empathetic and iterative — two key traits needed for any learning and development initiative.
The approach consists of five phases or steps:
According to the Deloitte study, two-thirds of companies now believe complexity is an obstacle to business success and a barrier to growth in productivity. The numbers demonstrate this: 79 percent of respondents to the survey rated design thinking an important or very important issue.
Design thinking moves HR’s focus beyond building programs and processes to a new goal: designing a productive and meaningful employee experience through solutions that are compelling, enjoyable, and — perhaps most importantly — simple.
Indeed, HR and L&D professionals can move from serving as a “process developer” to an “experience architect.” Design thinking empowers such professionals to reimagine every aspect of work: the physical environment; how people meet and interact; how managers spend their time; and how organizations select, train, engage and evaluate their employees.
Travis Jordan, founder and CEO of Instructional Design Central, points out that organizations have long been focusing on the experience of their customers — the now, often-used expression “customer experience” — but now need to start thinking about the experience that they deliver their learners, who themselves can be considered an organization’s internal customers.
As such, there is now a trend of “LX,” or learning experience, based on the principles of customer experience and even user experience, which has become a model and generally accepted practice in design and product management disciplines.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services even publishes information about the importance of user experience, on its website Usability.gov.
“What’s driving LX design is the experience of the user — what’s happening positively and what’s happening negatively as they experience content,” notes Jordan in a recent webinar co-presented with Synapse.
Jordan’s advice fits in well with the Empathize phase of design thinking: “Watch them, study them, learn about them, interview them, observe them — that’s one of the best ways to understand how we can give them the right experience.”