Improving Human Resources Using Design Thinking

From a young age, I have always been inquisitive about all things novel and unfamiliar. Despite my aversion to taking medication in pill form or getting injections, I found great joy in aiding others and working as a nurse. My siblings used to joke about my ability to recall complex phrases more easily than shorter ones; I could remember “the distinction is evident” much more effortlessly than “7-up“, which was often the source of their teasing when I was a child.

I was enthralled to explore new realms and grasp the universal interconnectedness of the universe. This inspired me to pursue a lifelong study of the natural sciences, where I have always felt most content. It is remarkable how the most fundamental of scientific laws can be utilised to provide clarity on topics that are central to our daily lives. For instance, when applying Newton’s second rule of motion, we come up with the equation F = ma (F = Force, m = Mass, and a = Acceleration). From this, we can deduce that a new equation, a = F/m, is needed to calculate a. Taking this further, we can infer that an individual’s rate of success, or their “acceleration,” is contingent on their ambition to accomplish (their “inert force”) and their capability to acquire the abilities they require to advance their field (their “mass“).

Technology has certainly advanced significantly throughout the years, and it is my opinion that the creative technological solutions we have seen today are the result of humans’ continuous endeavour to make our daily lives simpler and more effective. It is especially exciting to witness the technological innovations taking place in Asia, which have had a positive effect on a variety of sectors, such as finance, entertainment, agriculture, medicine, and energy.

The digitization of traditional segments of the business is a highly exciting development, as it serves to both benefit our personal development and draw attention to the investment opportunities in Asia. According to General Partner at Partech Emmanuel Delaveau, “Asia is one of the most promising regions for future growth, with several tech hubs having recently sprouted, offering young people the chance to contribute to the development of the technology industry.” Philosopher Martin Heidegger believes that technology is not merely a product of human hands, but rather a state of mind that evolves over time. This is an important concept to bear in mind when considering the implications of the aforementioned advancements.

As a Human Resources Specialist at a digital business, I have found that the use of technology is one of the things that keeps me engaged in my job. By leveraging technology, there are numerous opportunities to streamline mundane tasks, resulting in improved services for both our customers and staff members. Technology is incredibly versatile and one should not make the assumption that everyone is well-versed in the latest devices and applications. Utilising tools such as Google Forms, Excel, and Google Sheets has allowed us to significantly reduce our turnaround times and enhance the quality of service we provide.

The ever-changing nature of the workplace has presented us in Human Resources with an unprecedented opportunity to begin planning for the future of work. To successfully address the issues that arise, we must be creative in our approach and leverage Design Thinking as a means of generating innovative solutions. By employing this strategy, we can ensure that our solutions are not only effective, but forward-thinking as well.

A definition of “Design Thinking”

The concept of “Design Thinking” has been around for quite some time, but it is only in recent years that it has gained widespread recognition. It was first developed in the mid-1900s as an approach utilised by designers to enhance the user experience. During the 1960s, this philosophy was adopted by those who specialised in developing homes, consumer items and technology, with the primary emphasis being placed on the needs of the users rather than the products themselves.

Design Thinking is a user-centric, iterative approach to problem-solving which places emphasis on innovation and fresh perspectives. It is a relatively novel concept to apply Design Thinking to Human Resources (HR) in order to gain insights into the needs of customers and to better meet these needs. Design Thinking has the potential to be implemented across HR, from the earlier stages of recruiting new personnel to the later stages of retaining and developing key employees so they become more valuable to the organization. According to HR Leader and Coach Lara Yeku: “HR needs a “human-centred” approach to tackle our talent challenges and turn them into potential employee experiences.

The efficacy of this approach lies in its emphasis on the current situation, enabling individuals to plan ahead for upcoming projects, regardless of the complexity of the task. Furthermore, creativity is an aptitude that can be cultivated and honed with practice and dedication, thus allowing people to improve their skills over time.

In order to gain an in-depth comprehension of how to utilise Design Thinking to develop creative and innovative solutions to problems, we will go through the fundamental elements of the process and analyse a straightforward example.

  1. Understand:

    • The first step in the design thinking process is to practice empathy. This requires you to put yourself in the shoes of those impacted by the issue so that you can build a personal connection with your end-users. Listening is essential to this process in order to really understand the perspectives of others without making assumptions or judgments. It is also important to be aware of the various roles that must be filled throughout the process.
    • During this phase, we endeavour to compose a statement of the problem we are trying to solve. We will focus heavily on making sense of the data we assembled in the preceding step. In particular, we should consider the following questions: Could there possibly be a pattern emerging? Where do our customers experience obstacles or difficulties? If there is one major issue, what is it?
  2. Explore:

    • After gathering customer feedback and creating a list of potential problems, we will engage in a brainstorming session in order to generate original solutions to the issue at hand. At the conclusion of this process, we should have a comprehensive list of ideas to explore. The possibilities for new and innovative approaches to resolving the issue are virtually limitless.
    • During the prototype stage, modifications may be implemented to the solution prior to its completion. In order to validate the identified issues and suggested solutions, testing will be conducted.
  3. Materialise:

    • In order to verify the validity of this theory, it is recommended that prototypes be shared with end-users or pilot studies be conducted in different scenarios. The objective of this exercise is to obtain feedback that can be used to revise and enhance the suggested approaches. This may require repeating prior steps, such as prototyping or even the empathy phase.
    • Once the process has been completed, the next step is to implement the new product or procedure. This involves full deployment, allowing it to be used by the intended users. This is an ongoing process that may involve dealing with unforeseen problems, which will require us to devise innovative solutions.

Since this may sound dry, let’s go through an example to better grasp how we might apply Design Thinking:

Aminu, an HR Operations Officer at an IT firm, recently encountered the methods of Design Thinking and has decided to apply them to investigate the confusion surrounding the company’s leave policy. Staff members have provided feedback which suggests that it is difficult for them to plan ahead for their vacation time. As such, Aminu is taking the necessary steps to ascertain potential solutions to the issues raised.

  1. Aminu is taking a proactive approach to fully understand the perspectives of other team members by organising a focus group with the heads of each department. Through this focus group, Aminu and the Human Resources team will gain further insight into the issues being discussed and gain a better understanding of the situation.
  2. At this stage, Aminu and his coworker sit down to formulate the issue statements.
    • All company rules should be housed in one central location so all employees may access them simply and quickly without having to contact HR.
    • Workers would like a concise policy that has been brought up to date to reflect the present state of the company.
  3. Conceptualise – Collectively, we think of ways to address the issues listed below.
    • Include a link to a sheet or tracker in Google Drive so all workers may see the company’s regulations;
    • Put up a basic intranet that can serve as a repository for all of the rules;
    • Communicate to your staff on a regular basis where they may examine all rules;
    • It is essential that the policy be amended in order to ensure clarity and transparency. By providing a comprehensive overview of the pertinent facts regarding leave allocation and use, staff members can best utilise their paid time off. To this end, an appendix should be created to contain all the necessary supplementary material.
    • Make it simpler on the reader by providing a table of contents, relevant headings, and suitable section dividers;
    • Get the word out about the new leave policy by holding a road show with a catchy song and a film summarising the most important points.
  4. Aminu is working in collaboration with his colleagues, as well as members of the Technology and Internal Communications departments, to investigate software that might simplify the process and make the policy’s wording more comprehensible for the organisation’s personnel.
  5. Once Aminu and his team have created a new policy and identified possible technological solutions, they will distribute the policy to a select group of employees for testing and to gain their feedback.
  6. Once the necessary modifications to the policy and implementation process have been made based on the feedback collected, this new information will be distributed to all employees. This could potentially lead to both unexpected challenges and great successes for the team. To prepare for the next extraordinary challenge, it is important to start from the beginning and consider the perspective of others.

After providing essential support to HR Superman Aminu and his team in successfully averting a potentially disastrous situation, it is now time to assess the situation and explore ways in which we can more effectively meet the needs of our key stakeholders – our staff, customers, and shareholders.

According to a recent article published by Forbes, the changing nature of work in the future can be anticipated to occur in five distinct ways. Firstly, roles within organizations are likely to become more fluid, allowing employees to move between departments and better utilize their individual skill sets. Secondly, the workforce is expected to become more dispersed, with the increasing prevalence of remote work and gig-based employment. Thirdly, the need for lifelong learning is likely to increase to ensure employees remain competitive in the job market. Finally, technology is predicted to supplement human occupations, creating opportunities for new roles and allowing existing roles to develop more efficiently.

This essay provides evidence that Design Thinking is a powerful set of strategies that takes into account both the needs of the customers and the employees in order to ensure efficient service delivery. By focusing on the needs of both of these groups, Design Thinking allows for improved customer satisfaction and employee engagement, leading to a more successful service delivery.

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