Evangelizing the idea of Design Thinking & Project Management being applied together.

Design Thinking is essentially an approach to problem solving with an emphasis on human centered solutions. Design Thinking focuses on some key areas such as empathy with end-users, strong problem definition, diverse team collaboration, a tolerance for failure, prototyping and iterative testing.

PMP (Project Management Professional) is an internationally acclaimed certification for Project Managers issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s largest non-profit association for project management professionals. When applied to Project Management, Design Thinking contributions can be instrumental in achieving successful outcomes.

The PMI Journal (Apr 2016) published an article that highlights three key areas where Design Thinking contributes to effective Project Management:

  • Managing the exploration phase
  • Management involvement of stakeholders
  • Managing a project in relation to the strategy

Design Thinking improves design outcomes because its tools and attitudes address and mitigate the cognitive biases that strongly impact any creative process and flaws that can result in failures. More specifically, consider the following three categories:

  1. Decision makers’ inability to see beyond themselves and escape their own past, their current state, their personal preferences, and their tendency to be unduly influenced by specific factors.
  2. Inability of users to articulate their future needs and provide accurate feedback on new ideas, making it difficult to develop value-creating ideas for them. 
  3. Flaws in decision makers’ ability to test the hypothesis they have developed. By working on multiple options and reflecting on the results of real experiments, Design Thinking can help mitigate such biases.

Applied across an organization, Design Thinking can encourage teams to collaborate in remarkable ways to serve their end customers. Incorporating this approach into the fabric of Agile Project Management practices has resulted in groundbreaking innovations.

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