In this Talent Tales episode I had the honor to interview Christina Chateauvert, Design Thinking Learning Lead at Ford Motor Company. In her role, Christina focuses on building design thinking capability inside the organization.
Christina’s passion is to educate others on how to use human-centered design in their business and personal lives through her work at Ford, her teaching in the “Learning Design and Technology” graduate program at Wayne State University, by providing professional development workshops for women at SheHive, and by hosting the Detroit hr.hackathon.
Christina’s creative superpower is “From Abstract to Action”. She thrives in the creative problem solving space and loves to translate insights from user research into tangible solutions.
If you are new to the design thinking method, Christina has a great definition of “human-centered design” for you: The way we introduce the people we are designing for into our design problem, so we make sure they are always the focus when we are trying to solve that very problem.
Yes, Professor Chateauvert!
It has been well documented (most recently in The Atlantic) that Ford Motor Company has embraced design thinking as a method to drive innovation across the organization. Christina shares three key areas of impact:
Clarity – Everyone uses a unified language when talking about problem solving approaches and phases of design thinking. Using the same framework across the organization reduces time spent on debates about terminology and approach.
Consistency – Having a unified framework allows employees to know exactly what is being done, e.g. interviewing or determining which types of ideas might get prototyped.
Community – It’s easy to not make the time to find out what’s going on around us. What are others (inside and outside our company) doing that we might learn from? This does not have to be time consuming or expensive. Ask yourself: “What can I do for less than $50 in an hour to get some feedback or insight around the solution I am proposing?”
An example of how the automotive company has strengthened design thinking mindsets is evidenced in their recently released “Our Truths”.
And here are some of Christina’s tips for how to get started with design thinking in HR:
Embrace a positive learning mindset.
There is no true mastery in design thinking as it is an ever emerging field. We are all on this journey together. Start small, but start somewhere and continue to study, learn, and experiment with design thinking. Christina recommends the book “Innovation by Design” to learn how other organizations have scaled design thinking.
Meet people where they are.
It can be overwhelming to implement design thinking from beginning to end. While you may have passion around the topic, others might be skeptical initially. A good way to start is by making small changes to a project, e.g. interviewing a few people or brainstorming differently. Once people have experienced some of these activities, they find that they really enjoy working this way and then it starts to become contagious.
Don’t shy away from failure.
Many businesses tend to be risk averse and marked by a fixed mindset. This is not conducive to creating a culture of constant iteration and learning. How might you evolve your organization’s failure tolerance?