Attaining a competitive advantage by  transforming the design thinking mindset and practice within the company
Client
Thoughtworks
Industry
Software consultancy
Duration
3 months (2019)
Areas of responsibility
Desk research & interviews, System analysis, Design strategy, Workshop facilitation, Prototyping, Service video & storytelling
The Story

Thoughtworks is a global software consultancy providing technology solutions to solve complex problems. They help clients strengthen their core technology, scale with flexibility and create seamless digital experiences to achieve business goals.

My team was asked to understand the possible scenarios that could emerge as a result of changes within Thoughtworks. We thought about the preferable future environment in which they can exploit their existing capabilities and explore new capabilities.

The Solution
Futurity Works aims to create adaptability to future, get prepared for emerging needs of clients and unlock imagination for future scenarios.
 
Our service consists of two parts, physical hackathon and a collective intelligent platform which help consultants cultivate creative conversation towards the future, structure a fun way of the storytelling process and foster collaboration between different departments.
Since the brief was quite broad, we had to find our own way to define the project scope and decided whether we wanted to focus on the talent development strategy and demand strategy within the consultancy or the change of the challenges of clients in the future. We did not force ourselves to pick a specific area to work on at the beginning, instead, we started to conduct desk research to understand the trends, challenges and project cycles of software consultancies, as well as the topics we were interested in regarding the industry.
Concurrently, we interviewed around 15 employees from different departments to know more about their roles, the cooperation between teams, their concern about the existing practice, the market changes they should be aware of in the future and the corresponding opportunities.
01 Research
Discovery
02 Analysis
Key Insights
The service that Thoughtworks provides is problem-solving oriented. The project teams tend to be reactive to what clients ask for considering the current situation. They are required to fix the clients' problems within a short period of time so they do not have enough time to consider the long term challenges that clients are going to face in the future while designing the solution.
Some of the employees are eager to change the existing practice to adapt to the emerging needs of clients but it is difficult to get on the same page with top-level decision-makers.
With the takeaways from the desk research and interviews, we were able to narrow down the focus of the project to help employees and clients build a shared vision of the future.
How might we help consultancies attain a competitive advantage, through transforming their current work practice?
03 Ideation
Service Proposition
Futurity Works aims to create adaptability to future, get prepared for emerging needs of clients and unlock imagination for future scenarios. Our service consists of two parts.
Futurity Lab

 

It helps consultancies facilitate knowledge sharing and engage with clients. Employees will form teams to crowdsource research topic among themselves and generate trend reports with detailed insights and strategies towards the future. However, we realized that it is not easy to establish this platform because we will need to transform organizational culture, consider cost and value creation and change the current behaviour.

 

We want to overcome these challenges by launching Futurity Hack before establishing the Futurity Lab.

Futurity Hack 

 

It is a collaborative hackathon to help nurture a future-driven mindset within consultancies through in-person coaching and comprehensive toolkits. It is designed for all employees, from designers to finance managers aiming to disrupt their mindsets through open and interactive conversations about what they feel the future could be to develop projects that create long term values. The project teams will be encouraged to do the session with clients after practising it internally.

 
We organized two workshops to test our idea with employees at Thoughtworks and some designers. We wanted to know if the service can be incorporated well into their everyday work practice and whether they can see the value of instilling future design thinking. One of my team members acted as a facilitator of the hackathons and the others participated in generating future scenarios with a given topic, e.g. what will hospitals look like in 2040? 
We got very positive feedback on the tools that we provided, worksheets and prompt cards, which could inspire them to come up with interesting scenarios through interactive discussions. Participants also believe the service can help build long term relationships with clients and increase the value of the solutions.
04 Prototyping
Validation
Learnings
Quantities of interviews ≠ Depth of research

Controlling the quantities of interviews and finding the right person to speak with are important to be more efficient during the discovery stage. We have interviewed around 15 employees from different departments throughout the design process. The first few interviews were really helpful in terms of understanding the culture and daily work of the consultancy. However, some of the insights were repetitive as we interviewed more people and not relevant as we started to narrow down the focus of the project. 

Change in mindset → Change in behaviours
It is not easy to change the work routine that a project team is already familiar with as they always need to maintain the quality of the project outcome. A shift in mindset to recognize the value of the new practice is the foundation to drive actual organizational change in behaviours, which is what the internal hackathons aim to achieve. They serve as trials to help the project team gain confidence in introducing future design thinking to clients.
 ©  2021  Cammy Sha