THE LOOP: A documentary on IBM design thinking

One of the things that have cropped up in my news feed recently was this: The Loop: A documentary on IBM Design Thinking. You’ll need to handover the obligatory contact details to InVision see the full documentary, but a trailer is available.

The documentary talks about IBM‘s journey into Design Thinking, by evangelising the outcomes that Design Thinking provides. The video follows the development of the IBM design language and applying at scale. It covers Phil Gilbert and Adam Cutler, some of the leading design authorities in IBM. The video shows how they’ve taken Design Thinking and moulded it to the IBM environment.

Rather than using a process that flows one way, through stages: Empathize, Understand, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. IBM chooses the Loop (in the shape of the symbol for infinity, ∞). This uses three elements, Observe, Reflect, Make and repeating them one after the other. Using this loop prevents projects being stuck in one particular part of the phase. You move forward with what you know and iterate again. This fits with the continuous development model that they now adopt for software projects.

It covers the requirements needed to bring on new designers, many from University and getting them familiar with IBM. As well as adapting IBM to cope with these millennials and the design-thinking method.

So IBM has a Design Thinking education program, with the aim of making many in IBM aware of the Design Thinking processes and tools. IBM has focused their Design Thinking effort on the non-designers, the technical teams that need to deliver and support a solution, however well designed. This has meant team level collaboration, often integrating a new design person into existing teams. The designer is now not an outsider, but a team member, even if that team may already have had a picture of their user.

IBM Design Thinking has been around that loop a few times and probably has many more turns to go yet. But this is one way in which IBM is changing for the future.

Of course, Invision doesn’t just want you to watch the video, they want you to take advantage of their apps that offer prototyping, collaboration and workflow tool following design thinking models.