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How to change things in your company

  • Zahida Huber

Do you sometimes want to change things in your company? Do you face processes that are slow or error-prone. Do you see things that are missing or should be done in a new way?
I moved from being a UX Designer to take care of changes like these within Liip. In the beginning it often took me forever to have an impact. But over time my process became more stable and reliable. Today I’m able to deliver the first results within a month or two, and this is how I do it.

Form a team with diverse skills that can implement solutions

Like everything else, change means a lot of work. You have to write, develop, design, communicate and organise lots of tasks. I lost time often because of staffing my projects with volunteers who cared for the topic, but then didn’t have the skills needed to implement the ideas. Today I form and book a core team with diverse skills (a developer, a designer, an expert of the matter) before I start with the project.

Formulate a goal and face risks to know where you are going

Finding a common vision was often time-consuming and talking about risks sometimes drained energy and enthusiasm. After I read the excellent book “Sprint” by James Knapp, it went down much faster and easier. Many of the following steps are inspired from this book.
On the first day, we (the core team) ask ourselves “Why are we doing this? Where do we want to be in five years?” and formulate a long term goal. We answer “How could we fail?” and formulate the emerging fears and risks as challenges.
This usually takes about one hour and the team is still motivated and energised afterwards.

Make a map to understand the scope of your challenge

Change feels often epic and overwhelming to me, especially in the beginning. Where should I start in this huge, complex topic?
So we started drawing a map of the process we are about to change or improve. That’s sometimes quite difficult to do, but in the end we’re getting an overview of our challenge, who is involved and which steps the different roles need to take.

Ask customers and experts to unlock their knowledge

We show the map to affected employees, clients and experts. By interviewing them about the challenge at hand, we unlock their knowledge and experience. This leads to a complete and more differentiated picture of the challenge. Everything is captured on stickies and clustered into topics at the end of the morning.

Pick a specific target to focus your energies on

We vote for the most important insights of the interviews, most relevant challenges and most critical steps in the process. In the end we decide on what to focus and put our energy on. Out of our decisions, we synthesise a design challenge, a problem statement that we want to solve. Out of an open and complex topic, we pick one specific target with a lot of potential.

Turn ideas into detailed sketches to choose the best ones

In my first projects I let people create ideas on a whole process or topic and write ideas on stickies with only a sentence or two. The results were broad and often not thought through. It was hard to compare them and more than once we failed to implement the winner ideas.
Today I let the team members sketch out their ideas more carefully and draw them out in solo work with the 4 Step Sketch technique (also from the Sprint book). We have fewer solutions, but they are more concrete and it’s easier to evaluate them and to implement the winner ideas.

Use a service blueprint to stitch the ideas into a coherent solution

Often the winner solutions don’t fit together neatly and have a different level of granularity. To come up with a coherent solution and to not forget anything, we use a service blueprint. We define how our solutions will be delivered, what material, actions and infrastructure are needed in every step of the process, all mapped on a huge sheet with different lanes.
Out of this blueprint we write user stories of what needs to be done and prioritise them.

Block time for the whole team to implement solutions fast

I usually work on changes with volunteers who do this next to their daily job. It’s hard for them to make time for an internal project and finish their tasks on time. We started to block 4-5 half days in advance, where the whole team is together in a room, but everyone works individually on their own tasks. Like this we can implement and deliver solutions much faster and work on a predictable timeline.

Deliver a first result within a month

When I started my work as an internal Service Designer and Change Agent it took me forever to tackle problems in my company. With this process, I got a lot faster and I can deliver a result in a predictable timeframe.
If a small team is willing to invest 3-5 days into changing something, we can understand the problem, define the most relevant step and deliver a solution within one month. We don’t produce groundbreaking innovations in this time, but at least a first step.
More often than not, the change process continues once it is started and the team keeps producing more solutions over time.

Steal it, if you like

If you can use any part of this process or the whole thing, please do. Let me know if you have questions, need more explanations or tell me how your own change went at zahida.huber@liip.ch


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