We hope you attended NSCA’s 23rd annual Business & Leadership Conference and watched the breakout session, “Think Like a Scientist, Not an Engineer,” presented by Laurie Englert of Legrand | AV and Lisa Perrine of Cibola Systems. But in case you missed it …
There were 16 sessions at NSCA’s 2021 Business & Leadership Conference (BLC), including several concurrent breakout discussions. One benefit to this year’s BLC being virtual is that our platform provider, LAVNCH, stored videos of all sessions for seven days after the event. That gave everybody a week to watch any sessions they missed.
The NSCA staff took advantage of that, too.
In this series of ICYMI BLC session recaps, NSCA staff members share their own takeaways from sessions that impacted them. Here’s NSCA Member Relations Specialist Deb Gaskill’s take on “Think Like a Scientist, Not an Engineer,” moderated by Spinitar’s Jay Rogina.
This was more of a workshop than a traditional session. It challenged NSCA member integrators to rethink their approaches to client engagement, presenting design-thinking practices and strategies aimed at helping sales professionals get more out of the “discovery phase.”
In other words, the goal was to help integrators better understand what their customers’ true needs are – and help them to deliver more valuable and impactful solutions.
In my work at NSCA, it’s just as important to me to understand what our members’ true needs are. Here are some elements of the presentation by Laurie Englert of Legrand | AV and Lisa Perrine of Cibola Systems, presented by Spinitar’s Jay Rogina, that stuck with me.
All Roads Lead to Empathy
Design thinking is about continuous end-user engagement where you need constant input from your client. It involves multi-disciplinary teams where people with different skillsets are needed to make the best possible output. It requires the iterative process of build and test, such as creating prototypes to set up the experience.
Empathy works through all these phases of a project.
“Design thinking is really a framework of innovation,” Englert said, “but, most importantly, if you learn anything from this, it’s about empathy.”
It was interesting when Perrine dove into the top concerns that NSCA members have about sales. They included:
- Fewer projects
- Lack of decision-making
- Slow decisions
- Stakeholders with conflicting requirements
- Low/small budgets
She went on to discuss design thinking tools that can be used to overcome these obstacles. (See list of resources below.)
“They don’t cost anything to do. They can be done real-time on the fly and, most importantly, they can be done with your customers,” Perrine said.
A Case for Design Thinking
I liked that the workshop addressed the “quantifiable value” of design thinking. We know that NSCA members are battling to overcome market challenges. We know that they’re extremely focused on creating value for their customers. So, if they’re going to pursue a nontraditional strategy such as design thinking, they need to know the ROI.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business did some research and found these five things to be the quantifiable value of design thinking:
- Solution Quality: delivering customer delight and high ROI
- Trust Building: building a trusted advisor relationship
- Self-Esteem: providing your team with highly satisfying work
- More Resources: opening up new relationships and funding
- User Adoption: speeding the acceptance of change
It’s hard to argue with the value of those results.
Next Steps on Design Thinking
For those of us who were hooked by this BLC presentation and want to learn more about design thinking, here is a long list of resources:
- IDEO.org Field Guide to Human Centered Design & other resources
- Stanford d.school Tools for Taking Action
- Stanford d.school Resources
- Design Thinking Resources for Educators
- Google Design Sprint Kit
- IBM Design Thinking Field Guide
- Alexander Cowan Venture Design (tools/templates for Empathy, Ideation, & Agile)
- Stanford d.School Virtual Crash Course
- University of Virginia (via Coursera) – Design Thinking for Innovation
- University of Virginia (via Coursera) – Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector
- University of Virginia (via Coursera) – Agile Meets Design Thinking
- IDEO U
- Acumen & IDEO.org – Introduction to Human-Centered Design (free online class on how to use HCD for social innovation)
- Acumen & IDEO.org – Facilitator’s Guide to Human-Centered Design (free online class on leading others through the HCD process)
- Innovating for People – Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods (by Luma Institute)
- Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation (by Tim Brown)
- Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers (by Jeanne Liedtka)
- Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (by Tom Kelley & David Kelley)
- The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life (by Bernard Roth)
- Design for Strengths: Applying Design Thinking to Individual and Team Strengths