June 7, 2016 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Empathy, IT, and the Digital Economy

On May 24, 2016, Sue Bethanis hosted Jeff Sussna, Founder and Principal of Ingineering.IT on WiseTalk. Jeff specializes in driving quality improvements through practical innovation.  Jeff shared his ideas about using Design Thinking and DevOps to improve customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.

Favorite Quote:

“Empathy does not mean wallowing in other people’s pain. All it means is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. It’s really fairly simple and straightforward.”


  • DevOps – In most IT organizations the people who develop software and the people who operate software are separate groups. Software as a service (SaaS) businesses need IT to deliver faster and continuously and this leads to boundaries between these two separate groups to break down. Sussna believes that DevOps is fundamentally about crossing silos and boundaries and getting people to work better by working together- shifting from an old complicated system into something more fluid and dynamic that improves both speed and quality as a result.
  • Design Thinking – After 250 years industrialism we have this very long tradition of how we deliver things and messages. Now we need to learn something new. Companies are losing control because customers are controlling the message and that is a very new thing. Sussna uses an abductive approach to solving problems. This approach is an alternative to analyzing your way to a solution. He shared that it is important to think beyond functionality and that all of the parts of IT and digital business are about delivering service and this service needs to be designed.
  • Resistance – With an iterative approach you start with a hypothesis by engaging a group and allowing them to learn; you are empowering people to adjust and in this process you create momentum. Sussna believes that getting people talking to each other is the simplest and most straight forward way to begin. It is important to create opportunities for them to solve problems together. When you get people together and you give them an opportunity to make things better together, that is an ideal way to overcome resistance.

What We Found Most Interesting:

Leading businesses are making the shift from the complex machine model to the complex adaptive system model. This new model is organized in small cross-function teams with autonomy and the ability to experiment, learn and move quickly. This model also gives us a mechanism for achieving resiliency. The problems we face are becoming more complex with systems and the model organization structures give us a much more powerful mechanism for doing that. They also help us to respond to failure in a flexible and elegant way. The potential is that instead of IT being a friction point it becomes an acceleration point.

To learn more about Jeff’s approach to digital service delivery, listen to the WiseTalk recording.

June 27, 2014 / Articles We Like

On: "Charles Eames on Design"

Charles-Eames-400x466In this blog post, Charles Eames on Design, Maria Popova shares one of Eames’ little known interviews. Forty-two years later, the master’s words resonate now more than ever.  He was the forefather of customer-centric innovation and design thinking.

I often say to my team and the leaders I work with, “an idea is only as good as its usefulness.” In this interview, Eames brings home the centrality of customer “need” in design over and over again, and he offers leaders a different way of seeing the world.

Charles & Ray Eames are design heroes of mine, and I favorite Maria Popova (@brainpicker) more than anyone else on Twitter.  I hope you get something out of the interview like I have, and please share your thoughts!

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.



June 26, 2014 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation

DT for strat innovationDesign Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School
By Idris Mootee

Head: (5 out of 5)
Heart: (3 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Executives today will agree that the complexities of doing business have grown exponentially.  Our global world is smaller due to technology that connects us all at the speed of light, driving customer expectations high.  The world’s population consumes natural resources faster than we can replace them, if at all.  Competition in the market is fierce.  Despite all this, most executives have been operating with an outdated management model, one designed for an outdated world.  That’s why this book is a timely and important read for leaders.

Design thinking can be used to make sense of all of this complexity. It connects the dots and drives innovation by allowing us to experiment in the midst of chaos and complexity.  Creative solutions can emerge for complex problems.

This book, written by management guru Idris Mootee, defines design thinking and introduces readers to the applications of it.  As a framework, the author links the application of design thinking tools to eight key challenges most businesses encounter: growth, predictability, change, relevance, extreme competition, standardization, creative culture and strategy and organization.  Each chapter offers tips and thinking points.

Executives interested in a guide for applying design thinking will want to read this book.  Buy it now.

/ Wise Talk Teleconference

Design-Driven Cultures

WISE TALK July 2014: Sue hosts Steve Reynosa, Director of Organizational Development for Citrix Systems. Steve is an evangelist and convert of how design-driven initiatives can reshape a company culture. He brings an insider’s perspective on how a design-driven culture impacts the way human resources approaches process deliverables inside an organization. His tips will help you understand the impact design can have on a business.

May 29, 2014 / Articles We Like

On: "Use 'Design Thinking' to Reach Customers"

Would you rather: chase market share to grab revenue – at any cost – or offer value to your customers which returns respectable margins?  If profit margins are important, this article by Andrew King and Jeanne Liedtka will resonate with you.  Many businesses today get stuck in a rut because they can’t think outside the box about reaching their customers and adding value to their lives.  This article shares an example of how design thinking can infuse fresh thinking into ongoing business challenges.

The Washington Post article Use ‘Design Thinking’ to Reach Customers” highlights how Intuit used design thinking to turn ideas into innovation.

Read it now.

What business successes have you had with design thinking?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

May 15, 2014 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

How Can Design Thinking Spark Innovation?

Graphic by mapthemind.org

Graphic by mapthemind.org

Sue Bethanis, CEO of Mariposa Leadership, Inc., led an online webinar, Breakthrough! Apply Design Thinking to Spark Innovation, as part of the Syntax for Change online series, Cultivating Change 2014 Master Class for Change Agents.

Design Thinking is a problem solving technique that has been used extensively and successfully to develop products and services.  However, the principles of design thinking can also be applied by leaders to enable organizational transformation. For example, how do I redesign the value chain to shift from products to services or solutions?  How do I motivate employees to stay engaged and energized in their work amidst organizational change?  How can I involve employees in the change effort? These are not easy problems.  This webinar gave audience members an opportunity to apply the Breakthrough! model (Empathy, Brainstorm, Prototype, Implement) to a real-work challenge.

If you missed this fun and insightful webinar, click the link below to listen to the webcast.


For more information, check out our Design Thinking workshops and learn how to to easily move from idea-to-innovation.


January 29, 2014 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / HR / Talent Management

How Design Thinking Changes the Way HR Implements Programs

Most HR professionals understand the pitfalls of implementing an HR program. To circumvent failure, HR professionals often conduct a needs assessment to inform direction, maybe conduct a pilot program, and then move to implement when given a “thumb’s up.”

A design thinking mentality shifts that. Whether designing a product, service or experience, the core principle behind the success of design thinking is “fail fast.” For HR professionals, this changes how “buttoned up” your program will be before piloting, or even before rolling it out.  The point is to test the program and via observation and feedback, gather data on an ongoing basis to continue to improve.  Why do this?  Because “customer-driven” programs are the most successful.

To innovate the way you implement HR and Talent Management programs, join us in our new Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop

January 2, 2014 / Book Reviews

Book Review | Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works

solving problems w DTSolving Problems with Design Thinking:  Ten Stories of What Works
By Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King & Kevin Bennett

Head: (5 out of 5)
Heart: (4 out of 5)
Leadership Applicability: (5 out of 5)

Design thinking is a creative problem solving method, which emphasizes the importance of discovery before solution using user-driven, empathetic market research approaches and real-world experiments. This method expands the boundaries of problem definition and solution generation, making it a novel approach for organizations to use for solving business problems. However, outside of the design environment, where design thinking is the norm, most leaders need an understanding of how to apply it to problems that are not product-focused.

The ten stories featured in this book showcase how design thinking works to produce innovative solutions to challenges such as internal process redesign, deepening customer engagement and addressing social issues. As a blueprint, these stories illustrate processes and tools used. The authors build on the work of Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s Designing for Growth, to offer a clear path for implementation.

Leaders interested in using more innovative methods to solve sticky business problems will want to read this book. Buy it now.

/ Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Why Innovative HR Leaders Prototype

Prototyping is not just for product design. Prototyping can also be used for intangible services or experiences, including human resource initiatives. Redesigning your high potential development program? That can be prototyped. Got an idea for branding your talent recruiting experience? A prototype can be done for that as well.

Why prototype instead of using PowerPoint to present your ideas? Tim Brown of IDEO often refers to prototyping as “building to think.” By making the intangible tangible through 3D modeling, ideas are bridged with innovation by using the right brain to liven up the solution, creating space for fresh thinking. The 3D models then become a symbol that can be tested with your employees to gather feedback through interviews and observation. Prototyping also offers a quick and cheap way to “fail fast,” one of the key principles of design thinking. In “failing fast,” more feedback can be gathered upfront and used to refine your idea before investments are made in HR program pilots.

For an experience with prototyping your human resource or talent management ideas, join us in our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop or download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking for prototyping tips.

December 18, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Better Brainstorming for HR Innovation

As an HR leader, you need to come up with innovative ways to energize, develop and retain your workforce.  You need fresh ideas – many useful ideas – as well as an new method for cultivating those fresh ideas.

In a design thinking process, brainstorming plays a key role in cultivating a plethora of fresh ideas. But we aren’t talking about your average run-of-the-mill brainstorming session, with everyone in the room (hopefully) contributing a single idea out loud, one by one.  This is a frenetic, fast-paced process which sets the stage for creativity!

Here are our tips, based on our Breakthrough! Model:

  • Clarify the specific problem upfront. Set the problem for the group before you begin to guide the brainstorming process.  Examples: How might we redesign the entire end-to-end employee experience of performance reviews? How might we create buzz about our company to a certain demographic, so they know us and know good things about us? How do we ensure that non-comp recognition and rewards are tied to retention? How might we redesign our current leadership development program with Millennials in mind? With multi-generational audiences in mind?
  • Encourage imagination.  Ask your team to think broadly and creatively.  The sky is the limit for ideas!
  • Start alone. Give each person some time to write down a bunch of ideas on individual sticky notes by themselves and post for the group.
  • Break into small groups. With smaller groups generating ideas at the same time, groupthink can be avoided, one person can’t dominate the conversation, and idea generation potential multiplies.
  • Each small group member produces an idea…and another…with limited time.  In a small group format, have your team write ideas on sticky notes and share them aloud one by one without comments.  Challenge your team to produce more ideas after a period of time.

This brainstorming process will result in a broad, creative list of ideas, from which to cull further.

For additional tips on frenetic brainstorming and culling the list of ideas, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us in our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

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