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Published On: Wed, Jan 20th, 2021

Design Thinking And Change Management; Are They The Same Thing?

We know both design thinking and change management involve the process of implementing change, so could it be that they can work together to effect change well??

Design Thinking

Design thinking places the end user’s element of change at the beginning of the process and works by opening up the problem and seeking solutions from those who are actually affected by the change.? Whether you open up to management who see a problem or end users who will action the solution, design thinking encourages participation by those involved at the outset to look more creatively to identifying potential solutions than a traditional change management process.

Change Management

Change management experts steer those affected through a change in a way that accepts how they feel, but the solution and process is already determined.? This route has the potential for stronger resistance and misses the opportunity to identify risks that the users and those affected might have identified had they been given the chance to be involved.

Design thinking works around what the end users need to function efficiently, with a belief that those who face the problems hold the key to answering them. Change management, however, looks at the business need and then works with employees to make these changes.? Change management is about supporting people through change as smoothly as possible, but the idea for change is driven by the business rather than user need and the solutions are driven not by those facing the problems.??

innovation sign

photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

Incorporating design thinking into change management

That said by incorporating design thinking into a change management process and opening up a creative process beyond owners and management to seek solutions from the wider end user could reduce risk and provide even greater reward.? When change management leaders immerse themselves into the knowledge and experience of those impacted, they will receive a wider balance of solutions.? Including those affected by an envisaged change at the start of the process to define both problem and solution, means you are likely to avoid a lot of resistance to any eventual change.

Resistance is one of 3 major hurdles to organisational change success, so to introduce design thinking at the outset of more traditional change management programmes could provide a higher chance of success, by not only avoiding resistance but by potentially gaining a more suitable solution.

Using design thinking at the start of the change management process could help to identify potential solutions that you may not have considered when looking to effect change within your organisation.? Incorporating design thinking into a change management program it seems can do no more harm than potentially lengthening the process whilst ideas are sought and tested.? Design thinking allows for more innovative solution possibilities and the time to test in the real world.??

Perhaps the greater chance of success is worth the extra time. After all, staff may feel more involved and take ownership of looking for solutions, leading to less resistance to change in the future if you have to revert to more traditional methods.

Author: Anne Preston

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