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In this episode of ColumbusCast, Ian Kingstone, UK Director of Strategy and Change at Columbus, and Toby Mankertz, Business Transformation Advisor, discuss the differences between using systems and design thinking, and how the two can be used together to maximise the value gained from your transformation projects.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking focuses on the people side of your transformation project, helping you further understand your stakeholders needs to improve user adoption. A typical design thinking approach towards a project consists of the following stages:

  • Preparing for change – before beginning your project, it’s important to answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question to get your stakeholders aligned towards the change
  • Addressing concerns around the change – any problems can be addressed and resolved in workshops, where those affected can brainstorm and express their concerns around the project
  • Ideating solutions for change – hone in on the concerns addressed in the workshops, and ensure you’ve got agreement on the solutions you’ve created across your stakeholder groups

Group of business people assembling jigsaw puzzle and represent team support and help concept

Developing a people-centric approach through design thinking is key to improving engagement, as by gathering feedback from the people who will be affected, you can create less resistance towards the change and instead have a culture of innovation towards the project.

What is systems thinking?

Systems thinking focuses on what you’re looking to achieve from the project from a technological perspective. Due to the number of different systems within your operations, it can be complex to understand how changing one aspect of your technology infrastructure may affect another.

By using systems thinking, you can start to recognise what’s working and what’s not by tracking any patterns relating to the change, so you can understand where you can best optimise several elements of your solution to generate the most value.

In comparison to design thinking, systems thinking will allow you to adopt more of an analytical mindset when dealing with organisational change, which can improve your decision making and help you avoid wasting time, money, and resources.

organisational change

Why you should use systems and design thinking together

As different people within your organisation will have contrasting views on any solution you’re implementing, using systems thinking and design thinking together allows you to adopt a holistic mindset towards your transformation project.

For example, by releasing new features and functionalities in a series of sprints across the implementation process, it opens opportunities to gather feedback to ensure the business problem is solved. From a design thinking approach, delivering change impact workshops simultaneously such as envisioning sessions allows you to determine whether your stakeholders understand are on board with the changes you’re making.

Due to the amount of disruption facing all industries, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to take on further transformation projects to stay adaptable and relevant. Therefore, by using both methodologies effectively, you can keep hunting value from either your new or existing solution and deliver continuous improvements for future success.

change project

Listen to our podcast to learn more about systems thinking and design thinking

Scroll to the top of this blog or search ‘ColumbusCast - Leading Business Transformation’ in your podcast app to gain further insight on:

  • The importance of adopting a value-first mindset for the success of your change projects
  • How Columbus use design thinking and systems thinking for both ourselves and our customers

Alternatively, to learn more about envisioning sessions, download the factsheet below, including:

  • What our value-first approach looks like in action
  • How Columbus conduct envisioning sessions and how they enable successful transformation

Read about Envisioning

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