Reinventing established processes

The challenge is how one can mainly with internal resources re-invent or refresh an existing process.

Let’s have a look at two concrete examples: contract management and onboarding.


Sure, I am aware that Design Thinking is about Desirability, Viability and Feasibility. But for this type of workshop I am recommending participants to focus on Desirability & Viability, which prevents the participants to be blocked by what is in place today, what is feasible. 


Now, let’s get started!

In the first case the workshop was planned for a day and the challenge we agreed with the sponsor on was the following: “How might we re-invent our Contract Management process in a more and more digitalized world, while gaining efficiency and customer satisfaction?

The challenge for the second workshop was actually “how might we best ameliorate the onboarding of our new employees in order for them to best integrate our Headquarters as individual as well as professionally?


The first part is about giving participants enough information to understand the challenge and opportunities. So here the sponsor is expected to explain the reason for the workshop, present the task at hand (challenge) and motivate the participants to be bold as this is a one-off occasion. It is also about inspiring through short videos, or inspirational speeches. I would recommend involving externals as those are mor likely to be taken seriously, as they will not be considered having an own agenda.


The next part will cover the phase where we ask the teams to apprehend the challenge, develop their own understanding and reframe the challenge. It’s all about getting clear on the shared ambition. 

In this phase I had two different approaches:

For “contract management”, I had the teams do the following:


Executed a Brain dump, where they silently brainstormed, then shared and clustered. At the end they had 4-6 clusters which clearly emerged

Based on those clusters I asked them to identify the main stakeholders for the future, and to pick the most important one

 Created the corresponding persona, carving out in the end what are the likes and dislikes when it comes to the current process.

Lastly, now that we had reached that stage, we asked the teams to reframe the challenge. You will note that every team has developed a different, but in no case antinomic, understanding. They are complementary. So, each team will have one question they will use to move to the next phase, ideating.


For “onboarding new employees”, we had agreed with the HR manager that we would identify a few typical new employees’ profiles and allocate two to each team (we had four teams). We had also defined that the onboarding started with the offer being signed by the new employee and lasted until the end of the probation period.


Create the corresponding persona, highlighting the likes and dislikes concerning the current process.

Reframe the challenge for the combined persona


Now we enter the ideation phase, where normally it is about developing as many ideas and concepts as possible and prioritize them. In those cases, we went for a blended approach, creating the core idea and multiplying from there.


The teams were required to think about the process of the future with different dimensions like: process steps from the persona view, objective, owner in the corporate, output, and tool used (yes I know it’s about feasibility, but it really comes towards the end)

The teams were then tasked to identify the following aspects:


Which are the parts where technology (remember the challenge) could really make a difference?

Which are the steps where the corporate is already good today (which are things we do not want to lose, even though we are reinventing), and what are the ones where there is clearly room for improvement?

Finally, they voted on what would be the 3 major quick wins in the process they just developed.



Next comes the validation phase, during which each team will shortly pitch its journey, but where enough time is given for feedback by the other participants.

Remark: Validation and exchanges occurs throughout the day and the different activities. Here we are merely speaking about the final validation.


In both cases, at the end of this one-day workshop, the companies had: several long- term solutions, clear quick wins identified, highly motivated employees and enough material to start the next steps.


Finally, please do not forget that the workshop is the beginning of the journey, not the end. Workshops organized because it is hype to do so, will lead to more frustration by the participants as if nothing had happened, and the approach you’re trying to get adopted will get a bad reputation. 


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