Implementing Design Thinking

My last task at Deutsche Telekom Design was to create and set up its Design Thinking program. The goal was (to negotiate and) to establish a company-wide Design Thinking practice.

To spread the gospel, we wanted to write and share a book about our flavor of Design Thinking within Deutsche Telekom. In addition, we planned to setup an education program and find a way to support projects who wanted to apply Design Thinking.

Like all design departments like to state, we have been using Design Thinking from day one and applied it always, in all our projects. We are the design department after all, and all designers know how to design think. Right?

Unfortunately, this seemingly inherent knowledge was neither well documented nor easy to uncover. Thus, I needed to reverse engineer and extract it from my work experience at Telekom Design – plus add a couple of things I thought that would allow us to create better products. To formulate this point of view I set up a small editorial task force and started writing.
The book was created with very few people, with a lot of effort, in a very short time, and I am still quite happy with the result. It articulated the design department’s stance on Design Thinking and gave some indication on how to apply it within the company.

If you care, you can download the book and flip through it, because my former colleagues shared the link in Page magazine this August.

Since Design Thinking was en vogue at Telekom, we were not the only ones using and marketing it. Thus, the next big step was to have a great big peace conference and to come to a common agreement. That was the most interesting and fun part of the whole endeavor, I must say.
In the end, all parties agreed (for this one time) to put politics aside and to work together because we thought that Design Thinking deserved a chance.
Thus, we integrated the feedback: updated the process, added new methods and tools and aligned our education programs. We developed a shared operating model allowing the different departments to work together. And then, we actually worked together!

Our education program proved to be quite successful and the demand for Design Thinking grew. Since we were relatively few people, we had to hand-pick the projects to support. Plus, we selected and recruited external help for the remaining projects. We became the “product owners” of Design Thinking, making sure that the common vision of how it should help Deutsche Telekom to create better products was kept intact.

This is the unpolished version, told from my point of view.
You’ll find nicer and grander tellings of the story somewhere else.