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.”

Insights:

  • 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.

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April 2, 2015 / Leadership / Mariposa Articles

The Communication Toolbox

We all grow up with our own unique communication style. Some people by nature are very direct. They come right to the point. They tell it like it is. They don’t mince words. Other people are more diplomatic, more indirect, more subtle in their communication. Indeed, there are a variety of communication styles—quiet, loud, forceful, caring, showy, authentic, and many more.

One metaphor I have found helpful in working with leaders to develop their communication skills is what I call “The Communication Toolbox.” The idea is that we each have a communication style that is most natural and comfortable for us.  Usually, it’s a style we began to develop early in our lives or careers, and that somehow has served us well.  But no one communication style is going to be right for all situations, and leaders encounter a tremendous diversity of people and contexts.  Part of being a well-rounded leader means having more than just one tool.  The further up you go in an organization, the more important it is to have a broader set of tools in your communication toolbox.To read the entire article, visit the Sierra Leadership blog.

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December 11, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / HR / Talent Management

2 Ways Empathy Can Help HR Drive Innovation

In most companies today, innovation is expected from all areas of an organization – including groups not traditionally known for driving innovation agendas, such as Human Resources. Success for HR and Talent Management leaders lies in opening up to new approaches for developing fresh ideas for difficult issues. Here are 2 ways that empathy – a key element of design thinking and one facet of our Breakthrough! model – can help HR & Talent Management leaders go from idea-to-innovation more quickly.

  • Empathy provides context for solutions. Too often, leaders of all types come up with an idea for a product, service or experience in isolation, then implement it. This approach fails to lead to innovation. Developing empathy through various methods of observation and interviewing puts HR leaders in their customer’s shoes, experiencing what they do and how they feel. Thus, HR leaders stand a better chance of developing solutions that work for the customer.
  • Empathy develops T-shaped HR leaders. HR leaders who develop an ability to empathize with their customers have both the vertical skills in human resources and are able to broaden their horizontal perspectives, leading to an ability to look at a problem from multiple dimensions.

For more information on empathy, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us at our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

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May 8, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Ask Mariposa: A Design Thinking Approach Can Help Solve Problems

Michael asks:  We could use more creative thinking to solve a problem we’ve been working on. Could a design thinking approach help?

Sue Bethanis, CEO responds:

Thinking differently and coming up with new ideas for tough problems is at the core of design thinking.  Design thinking taps into imagination and practicality, which taken together form the backbone of creative problem-solving and innovation.

Our design thinking workshop is a working session for teams tasked with solving any product, service, or experience challenge.  The team is led through a clear design thinking process, which starts with empathy (something most groups skip) and includes brainstorming to generate and cull as many ideas as possible.  The ideas most likely to produce breakthrough solutions are prototyped using creative, 3-D methods utilizing right brain thinking.  Getting messy and creative cultivates new thinking!  The models can be used to test the ideas with others and refine with a more sophisticated prototype from there.

Once you grasp the principles of design thinking, you’ll see that they can be applied to any business problem.  To learn more, check out these resources:

 

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April 17, 2013 / Blog / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Products Are Hard Conference Recap: Design Thinking Process and More!

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The 2013 Products are Hard Conference on April 1st proved to be rich with insights and fresh thinking on the product development process.  More than 200 product designers, developers, marketers, entrepreneurs and executives were treated to stimulating talks throughout the day by various thought leaders, including Mariposa Leadership CEO Sue Bethanis.  Sue presented a design thinking model that leads to breakthrough thinking and therefore has value for leaders beyond product creation.  Attendees participated in a rapid prototyping exercise to get a taste of how a design thinking process can be applied to solve wicked customer or team problems, as our clients have done in our Design Thinking workshop.

We captured brilliant tidbits from the presenters. Here are a few of our favorites:

  •  “LEAN Startups: Learn. Measure. Build.” Janice Fraser, Founder/CEO, LUXr @clevergirl
  • “Hardest part of product management is creating order from chaos. Listen. Learn. Think (dream). Test.” Sarah Rose, VP Product, ModCloth @sarahfrose
  •   “Understand all your customers. Your product must produce value for all of them.” David Charron, Senior Fellow and Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Haas School of Business @d_charron
  •   “Few things lose investor confidence more than an inability to launch. Better to launch and learn.” Charles Hudson, Venture Partner, SoftTech VC @chudson
  •   “Product building challenge: knowing when working with opinion vs. fact. Turn opinion to hypothesis and test.” Hiten Shah, Co-Founder, KISSmetrics @hnshah
  •   “Using design thinking for services is equally important as using it for products.” Susan Bethanis, Ed.D., CEO and Founder, Mariposa Leadership @suebethanis
  • “If trying to design products for global users, think about similarities in shared social and psychological rewards.” Judd Antin, User Experience Researcher, Facebook @juddantin
  • “Empathy interviewing requires beginner’s mind, getting off your own agenda!” Indi Young, Consultant @indiyoung
  •   “The people who make the product need to fall in love with it first.” Chris Lindland, CEO & Founder, Betabrand @Betabrand

Products are Hard presentation slides are available for viewing.

 

 

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February 19, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Coaching Skills / HR / Talent Management

Ask Mariposa: Team Listening Skills

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Drew asked:

The CFO of our company is technically fantastic at her job, yet I am hearing from her team that morale is down because she is not that open minded and doesn’t listen well. What are some things she can do?

Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

Drew,

It’s great that your CFO has the technical component of the job down.  Next, she needs to understand that the leadership components of her role are equally important. This is a common challenge for many who come to a leadership role through their technical expertise.  Daniel Goleman, famous for his research in emotional intelligence, has identified that emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership (refer to HBR, “What Makes A Leader”, Daniel Goleman, November-December 1998).  He has identified five components for emotional intelligence for effective leaders:  self-awareness, self-regulation,  motivation, empathy, and social skills. It sounds like your CFO could benefit from developing the capacity to show more empathy and build more rapport (social skills) with her people through active listening.

Your coaching of her will be key to her continued growth as a leader. Specifically, first give her straight and compassionate feedback. Appreciate the value of her technical expertise to the business. Second, explain her next opportunity for growth is as a leader of her team. As part of this, she will need to spend more team listening to her team in a way that they feel heard and appreciated. “Expert” executives often feel that their job is to have all the answers. You will need to coach her that her job as a leader is broader than that. It begins by having an engaged and empowered team.  The first step in that process is listening to the team, building rapport, and only then, will she be able to motivate them towards a common goal. Through your coaching, you will be increasing her self-awareness as you help her to develop the leadership part of her role.

This is a great opportunity for the two of you to work together to enhance her contributions to the overall business and become an more effective leader.

For more resources on developing leadership skills, refer to previous Ask Mariposa blogs.

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