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Invited talk given in January 2016 to the Boeing Enterprise Technical Lead Engineers community. Short introduction to design thinking and how to apply design thinking to the long development cycle of aerospace. Includes basic empathy tools at end of presentation.
Introductory overview of design thinking A brief on how design thinking can be applied in aerospace Two simple design thinking tools that can be used immediately
In a traditional innovation process, strategy drives the entire process First a strategy is identified Followed by brainstorming of ideas Then the down selected ideas are developed Next the requirements are developed for a final design Finally the defined and developed ideas are evaluated against the strategy Note that this is all innovation and typically done prior to actual product development processes
This style of development is often described as a funnel method Lots of ideas are thought up at the beginning, and slowly trimmed down to a final idea to be developed into a product
For the traditional innovation process we target the middle 68% of our customer curve This means our product will work for the largest group of people
This is a very difficult hurdle for engineers to identify and overcome What seems logical for us because we are so intimately familiar with all components of the design isn’t always logical for everyone
Design thinking is a human centered design philosophy It is not driven by strategy, rather strategy falls out of process to ensure that your strategy matches with your customers needs/wants; rather the first stage is empathizing with your customers and users The definition phase is done earlier help focus the ideation (brainstorming) phase Note that prototype is similar to develop but a bit more complex Note that test is similar to evaluation but a bit more complex Also note that there is overlap throughout the process and each stage is exclusive of each other; all stages should be considered during all other stages Also like a traditional innovation development this all happens prior to the final product development process
Rather than the traditional funnel, design thinking is describes as flare and focus First you flare out as you empathize with your customers and users to understand their needs and wants During the define phase a list of requirements is created to focus in on a primary problem that the product will solve for the user/customer The ideation phase re flares and then we enter a more traditional funnel phase during the prototype and test phases Important to note that it is still important during the prototype and test phase that new ideas should still be considered
The design thinking process emphasizes the edges rather than the median It has been shown that if you make something work for the 32% on the edges, it will also work, typically better, for the middle 68% So in the end you have the ability to capture a bigger market segment
A real work example of designing for the edges and capture almost the entire market is the OXO company Founded by Sam Farber after watching his arthritic wife struggle with a traditional potato peeler, as she was not able to fully grip the metal handle due to her arthritis Partnered with Smart Design to design a potato peeler that would work for his wife Patricia Moore (gerontologist) shared studio space with Smart Design and was brought in to help – her original work created the modern refrigerator that is easily opened rather than the then traditional metal latching handles First prototype was a traditional peeler glued into a bicycle handle Now Sam’s wife and most arthritic people can easily peel potatoes, but also it is easier for everyone else too
This is the primary driver for design thinking, how you center your design on the human Watch users in how they use your designs, your competitors designs, and similar products Interact with your users, interview them, train with them, and any other ways that you can think of Ask them leading questions, don’t ask them yes or no questions; ask them to tell stories and gather information from those stories they tell you Use your own design and if you can use it in your customers environment to fully understand what it’s like
Review what you learned from the empathizing phase What is the most important aspect to your customers and the users of the product Why are things the way they are, define the reasons including the users environment Use the tools that you already have like TRIZ to help capture all requirements
Everyone knows how to brainstorm, but ensure that you are doing it correctly and not short cutting it The goal is volume first, quality second Build off ideas to go wider and further, this is the reason to capture crazy ideas because great ideas could be inspired by the crazy ones Find unexpected areas of exploration, and be prepared to go back to the empathy stage as new ideas and questions are explored/discovered
The key is to put something in the hands of users Do all the parts work together Find multiple ways to solve the same problem Identify ambiguity and miscommunication of both ideas and definitions Should command only as much time, effort, and investment as are needed to generate useful feedback and evolve an idea; don’t worry about it being perfect “A prototype is worth a thousand meetings.” - Mike Davidson, VP of Design at Twitter
How can your prototypes be made better, and be prepared to make rapid changes to prototypes to get the most out of testing Don’t only test your prototypes, but also is your empathy model correct and are your definitions correct Take it to your customer and test it with them in their environment Remember that this is not certification testing, this is innovation/engineering testing; not only is failure and option it’s a learning step
So does design thinking work from start to finish, OXO was an example of a design that used design thinking but wasn’t following design thinking processes This is an example from David Kelley’s (founder of IDEO and Stanford d.school) book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
Three students from Stanford (Rahul Panicker, Jane Chen, and Linus Liang) for a class project at the d.school, Design for Extreme Affordability They followed the design thinking process developed and taught at the d.school at Stanford, to research and design a low-cost infant incubator for use in the developing word There first step was to research the problem of low-birth-weight infant mortality first They found that the original problem was incorrect and didn’t actually address the problems that premature babies and the parents in third world countries actually encountered They redefined the problem from a strategy of lowering the cost of incubators to a one of improving the survival rate of premature babies in Nepal (an edge) Final design is now in 11 different countries, and has reached over 50,000 low birth weight and premature infants
So how can design thinking be applied in aerospace
No empathy in old system – or at least it was not a primary driver No strategy in new system – or at least it is not the primary driver But if you provide what a customer needs, that is a strategy Define phase is moved up and some language changes Next section of presentation will move backwards through the design thinking as applicable to aerospace, starting with the easiest/most similar to the more complicated
Fail early, fail often - how do we do that in aerospace when we think of failures as crashes Use early prototype testing to fail without crashing Zodiac Aerospace at the ZEO facility in Southern California has a mockup center that can and does create full size mockups over night or less If full size mockups are impractical, step down to something that is practical
We do this now, but we need more, faster Follow the MVP (minimum viable product) method; create prototypes that are just enough to communicate ideas without breaking the monetary and schedule budgets Why not paper mache? – the more “finished” a prototype seems, the less likely it’s creators will be to pay attention to feedback (in particular negative)
Look for adjacent markets - trains, buses — but also hotels Don’t kill ideas too soon Schedule brainstorming time and use all of it; don’t stop when you believe you have a great idea Having a bank of ideas will allow you to go to them if your primary idea fails, minimizing the impact of a failure
We have lots of definitions in aerospace, but most of these apply to final products not our innovation phase Define the problem to be solved not how the problem has to be solved RFI RFQ are for product development Standards and regulations are constraints not definitions; that is they are not the end point, but should be the starting point
This timeline highlights why design thinking is so important in aerospace Design thinking is used by consumer product companies like Apple to create products like their iPhone But our aerospace products are used for much longer, meaning that “problems” introduced will be around for a long time Perfect example is why seats are too narrow, I’ve been told that the original designers designed to people’s hips rather than the widest part of our bodies, our shoulders Note that the old versions of the iPhone aren’t made much longer after launch of the new one but airplanes lifetimes are measured in decades
Examples of designing with the user first are: The Boeing 787 PAX windows where created so everyone in the plane can have a view outside Zodiac’s new business class seat allows everyone to have direct access to the isle and window seats actually face the window, after all the reason someone usually gets a window seat is to look out the window Zodiac and Boeing worked together, along with the airlines to improve the 787 crew oxygen mask so that it is a more universal fit; in particular a new database of facial shapes was created to work better for Asian and African profiles These examples were not created following design thinking, and it’s not that we did it wrong, it’s that embracing the process carries successes forward
Design thinking isn’t a new playbook, it’s a new playing field where your current tools like TRIZ are still utilized For TLE’s the goal is to empower people by providing them tools not just telling them what to do
Design Thinking is grounded in human centered approach, so define a human or two Define who you are empathizing with, this will keep you connected if they have a face and a name
Goal is to understand the life of the part, system, area Set a location for understanding your customers
There are no hard solutions that work across the board As a TLE guiding engineers, empathize with the person/group coming to you and find the best method/tools that works for that person/group
Empathy is hard for engineers, we want logical explanations If we design for the edges, our designs will work for the median too Requirements shouldn’t be the end point People buy things that solve problems in their lives We need to test earlier so that failure can be made part of our accepted culture; remembering that failure during development is different that failure during production
Remember why we are creating these airplanes and what they do for the world Also remember the people that have to build and maintain the airplanes
If you want to connect on LinkedIn, please include a note that you saw me here.
Templates for both empathy profiles and storyboarding
Composite Profile Build a composite profile from the empathy work you did to give your team something real to talk about rather than simply statistics. When you need to cover a large demographic build more than one profile to cover the range. Here are some tips for the profiles you build: Give the composite profile a real name to help personify the composition. Put a picture in the profile to help people connect with the profile. Include a number of primary characteristics like age, relationship status, education level, or any other demographic you use to make the person real and not simply a statistic. Use the considerations and expectations section to design for the edges; include here things that are not averages but are important considerations you found during your empathy research.
Storyboard As an exercise of both the empathy and define portion of the design thinking process, create a storyboard of what your customer and your product will see during a specific time period. Multiple storyboards can be created for different phases of the life of the customer and product. Here are some tips for building storyboards: Ensure a continuous timeline is defined. Find pictures or sketches of the scene to help understand what is happening. Give each scene a title to help identify it later. Use the composite profiles as characters in the scene. Define all actions that could take place during the scene to effect the profile or the product.
Using Design Thinking in Aerospace Innovation for TLEs
Using Design Thinking in
Aerospace Innovation for TLEs
January 14, 2016 - Boeing Technical Lead Engineers
Does it work?
Low-Birth-Weight Infant Mortality
✤Create a cheaper and easier-to-maintain
incubator for clinics in Nepal
✤Visit to Nepal found that incubators won’t
work; homes don’t have electricity and are
long distances to hospital
✤How might we create a baby-warming
device that helps parents in remote villages
give their dying infants a chance to survive
Design Thinking in Aerospace
How Can it be Applied?
Strategy Brainstorming Development Define Evaluation
Empathize - Who & How
Why It’s Important
20152010 20202005 2025
6 Launch iMplant
Zodiac – Cirrus Business Class
✤Direct Isle Access
Boeing – 787 PAX Window
Zodiac + Boeing – 787 Crew Oxygen Mask
✤Improved Universal Fit