DICoDE’s 2 legs: System and Design Thinking

I’ve believed in the concept of “2 legs” for a while. Out of Proximus in 2004, when I designed a start-up based on Gallery (France), but applied to Belgian market, I knew that we need a double B2C and B2B business model. Same when we were designing solutions with Carole Lamarque at Sanoma Magazines (now called Sanoma Media) Belgium: we needed to consider both SMB audiences: consumers and advertisers. Carole went even further segmenting consumers into members and users. I also noticed during the Webmission 2011 that this double aspect is important for companies like FlipBoard, Storify… You need 2 legs to walk, to run…

Brainstorming and discussing with several people (and recently with Tim), it appear that DICoDE at this stage is not trully customer-centric. Tim adviced to change direction of arrows, but it doesn’t make it… I can sense it…

Walking this morning, it all appeared clearer: DICoDE gathers both System Thinking and Design Thinking perspectives. First, DICoDE Strategies and DICoDE Business Models, in a System Thinking dimension, then a Design Thinking methodology to audit existing products/services and create innovation. Let’s step back to definitions:

  • System Thinking (Wikipedia link) considers that no actor is playing alone. There are providers, users, customers, prospects, ex-customers… but also regulators, information flows, energy flows… Accepting this brings humility (that is key for accepting the need to innovate), kills the outdated concept of Customer Ownership and open the door to include partners (and why not customers?) in product development and innovation processes
  • Design Thinking (Wikipedia link), at least in its most common understanding today, focusses on the user (or, better, as described by some on humans). Design Thinking brings a set of tools (personae, user stories, field study…) that helps understanding and creating solutions that fit users’ needs. Here’s a great article on how to be a great designer

Considering things this way, we can say that the whole methodology starts from the company. Even if it may sound wrong, i believe this is the way to go. You always start from somewhere. The blank page might be blank, it’s still a page… You might want to re-invent (or re-define: another great related stuff to read: Activate.com’s redefiners slideshare) your company, there are still assets, values, an identity… And even if you create a start-up to disrupt an industry, you have the founders history, past experiences… So we have to start somewhere, we have to set a frame where the solutions will fit, we need to create a source of inspiration for the products and services we will develop.
And starting from the company means auditing its current activities and understanding the systems it is active in. Adding the Business Model dimension, you have the current DICoDE framework.

Then, starts the Design Thinking methodology, following the box concept highlighted already on this blog. The purpose is, following a Design Thinking methodology inspired by what you can find on Wikipedia or Namahn’s approach to Human-Centered Design, to create products and services that fit users’ needs. In my methodology, Research was missing. I’ll work on integrating it as best as possible and test it.

You see? Here again, walking on 2 legs…

[Update July 19th 2011]: It seems wheels are more appropriate than legs, finally. It fits better to the iteration activity of Design Thinking. Here’s a preview:

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