Can design thinking help Nasa get to Mars?

Can design thinking help Nasa get to Mars?

Business innovation Design Innovation

By Mark Booth - October 24, 2019

This is one of the thoughts we were left with following our latest breakfast seminar. Professor Jeanne Liedka from Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, was recalling a discussion she’d recently had with a leading scientist at NASA.

Professor Liedka is a specialist in design thinking, helping companies around the world become more innovative and customer driven by using learnings and methodolgies used daily by designers. And in her words, it’s not about converting people into designers, but rather involving more people in innovation and using design tools to see problems in a different light – most specifically from the customers’ perspective.

Take the customer’s perspective
At our latest Daresay breakfast seminar on the business value of design, we learnt how an Australian healthcare provider – focusing on mental health treatment – was able to reverse the trend of shorter times between patient visits. Mapping the journey of one patient rather than the treatment process had shown them just how many touchpoints patients had at the medical center with various doctors. By changing the approach to solving the problem, staff were able to empathise with patients in a compltely new and enlightened way. Once statistcs were transformed into a patient’s real-life situation, they became emotionally engaged in solving the person’s problem and that of other patients. Together, staff were able to find a common way of providing better healthcare and lengthening time between visits.

Ask your customers what they want
We also learnt the importance of engaging with customers rather than relying solely on data. Data is extremely useful. It tells you how a customer interacts with a product or service, but it won’t tell you what customers want in the future. You need to ask them to find that out, if you don’t and you just wait for customers to tell you what they want you’ll lose any competitive advantage you might have. Why? Because customer tend to tell everybody at the same time – especially on social media.

Getting to Mars with Nasa
But what has this got to do with Mars? According to Professor Liedka, a leading scientist at NASA realised that their super talented scientists have the knowhow to get astronauts to Mars, if they collaborate effectively. And that’s where design thinking comes in, NASA needs help to get scientists talking to one another.

Something that we, at Daresay, can fully appreciate. We developed our own teamwork kit to improve the collaboration process  and give each member of a team the space (no pun imtended) and the confidence to contribute to a project. The kit, which includes different design methodologies, was even used to help the Swedish Space Corporation (SCC) improve the user experience of their analysis and reporting tools.

Want to know more about design thinking at Nasa?

“In late 2015, NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) funded an experiment in rapid design and rapid teaming to explore new approaches to solving challenging design problems in aeronautics in an effort to cultivate and foster innovation.” Read the report: Lessons Learned from Applying Design Thinking in a NASA Rapid Design Study in Aeronautics

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2015 report from NASA on the lessons learnt from apply deign thinking at NASA

Reach for your own star
OK, so you may not want to get to Mars but perhaps you have a challenge where design thinking can help. If you want to approach a problem from a different angle, to engage with customers or colleagues in a new way, and use deisgn thinking to get ahead of  competitors, our designers can help.

Help me get to Mars!

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