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Maintaining a human-centered focus in a remote distanced world

By Stephanie Wilkerson posted Mon March 22, 2021 11:59 AM


To support teams and organizations navigating  remote collaboration, we’re temporarily opening up free access to everything on our Enterprise Design Thinking site.  Use this site as a resource for learning about design thinking. It includes courses and a bunch of toolkit resources that you can use to apply design thinking principles. 

This is the second in a series of Design Thinking blogs authored by the IBM design team, adapted from other formats.

An environment that truly fosters innovation takes time and effort to build. Translating a pre-virus, in-person culture into a fully remote one is not just a copy-paste exercise with a few additional conference calls and screen-sharing moments. It requires thoughtful consideration of what it really means for everyone to be in different locations, still collaborate effectively, and create business and user outcomes.

So, the question is, how do you establish and maintain a remote culture that leads to creativity and innovation?

With the large, often geographically-dispersed teams we have at IBM, we have had ample opportunity to iterate and learn over the years on what works well and what doesn’t — and you can take advantage of our lessons learned.

1.  It starts with your principles.

IBM has infused its culture with 3 principles from Enterprise Design Thinking: a focus on user outcomes, restless reinvention, and diverse, empowered teams.

2. Your principles should ground your day-to-day work — especially when facing high levels of stress and uncertainty.

An already rapidly changing, dynamic environment has suddenly reached a whole new level. Restless reinvention, therefore, has become even more important to de-risk innovation by delivering incrementally and minimizing time-to-value. In the midst of uncertainty, we need a model for action — we’re constantly observing, reflecting and making. We call this the Loop, which drives us to understand the present and envision the future. It enables us to build on our successes and learn from our failures along the way. When taken to heart, it keeps us moving forward despite the uncertainty the future may hold.

Every day, we make decisions about how we approach our team’s way of working and about the actual work that is done. The important piece is to be intentional about balancing a bias towards action with thoughtfully considering what’s tried.

Take meetings as an example: Do we start the meeting by connecting as human beings or do we launch into the agenda? Or look at how we are approaching challenges: Do we critically examine the problem we’re solving and dig for the real user needs, or do we forge ahead with assumptions and perhaps deliver the wrong thing?

We all have the power to choose through our decisions and actions what principles we want to exemplify. And that — more than any other tool or technique — is what will enable us to achieve outcomes and solve problems that matter for our businesses and the world.

This summary of maintaining a human-centered focus is only the beginning; to read the full article, visit this link.