Making design thinking a part of every business day improves processes, increases efficiency, optimizes meetings and builds a stronger culture in which everyone has a voice.
Templated meetings provide structure and results
The needs of each stakeholder are addressed and aligned
Repeatable post project evaluations provide key data for improving performance
Meetings are more productive in less time
The Maverick? Price Engineering Company (PEC), a leader in fluid power and motion control innovation and application.
Nearly ten years ago, Price Engineering president and owner, Tom Price Jr., was introduced to design thinking. Being a natural innovator, he was not only drawn to its intrinsic creativity, but also envisioned its usefulness as a tool for his own business. In addition to creating the Maverick Innovation Lab as an autonomous entity to bring design thinking to south central Wisconsin, he saw the value in utilizing the discipline of human centered design within Price Engineering itself.
“Design thinking is just a great tool to have. Meetings are quicker, more focused and more productive. We always have a finite set of expectations and outcomes. No more vague, timewasting explorations.”
PEC began its adventure with human centered design as practiced by the LUMA Institute, engaging them to do a joint innovation session with PEC’s client Joy Global. Collecting stakeholders from Joy Global’s manufacturing division and some of their customer/operators, LUMA and PEC ran through a three day exercise the culminated in a brand new, user-centric operator cab and controls system.
After the success of this project, PEC had in-house facilitators trained and certified by LUMA. They would go on to run many other co-design sessions with other manufacturers including Megomat, TNT Rescue and SPX.
“Our customers and vendors are always impressed with the innovative ways we go to business.”
Realizing that in addition to project discovery and product development, design thinking could be leveraged to simply have more effective meetings, the facilitators began to develop specialized meeting sessions for PEC. Some were designed to accelerate strategic planning and process improvement. Others were constructed to collect input on everything from worktable design to ideal customer profiles. Of particular usefulness was a session created to do post project review. A template was developed similar to a flow chart, mapping out the sales process from initial customer contact, all the way through to shipment and subsequent runoff. Stakeholder representatives from all of the departments who had worked on the project are assembled for a one hour turbo meeting doing a color-coded SWOT analysis on each step of the process. Stakeholders comment via post-its on any point in the process indicating a positive, negative or unexplored experience and detail it. These responses are collected and charted for a quick and easy visual review of the project as a whole. The results of the sessions go into a database allowing further, detailed analysis to track trends on company performance.
“The Post-Build Reviews or PBR’s are fast and repeatable which makes the PEC team anxious and happy to do them.”
Using a modified technique called Project Alignment Templating (PAT) with vendors in order to do annual strategic planning and forecasting has proved another method extremely effective. Often these yearly meetings stay at a high level; they are more conceptual and do not provide enough tangible targets or metrics. Over the course of the year, these plans can fall between the cracks. Using the PAT method makes it easier to create a concrete, achievable plan that does not overreach the practical bounds of time commitment for either side. Using a visual like poster allows both sides to see a potentially over complex or time consuming initiative and provides the means to correct it right away.
“Our PAT’s provide a much more realistic forecast and gives our vendors equal skin in the game.”
Ongoing projects utilizing design thinking are customer profile development, ideal account executive of the future, requirements gathering, as well as team building session on characteristics of the best projects and how to recognize them early in the vetting process.
“Design thinking sessions are a way of life here. We actually look forward to meetings because we get things done and can share all of our opinions and ideas and not waste time.”