Author: Oluwakorede Asuni

Design Thinking in a Waterfall World

As much as we like to think we are now in a dynamic and agile world, most delivery initiatives are still some shades of agile and all shades of waterfall.

These initiatives could have adopted an agile outlook and naming convention, but the businesses they support are often still predominantly waterfall – going from one clearly defined task to another until realizing value. Think for example, order to cash, just in time logistics etc.

We often have some outliers, mostly modern businesses without legacy overloads and whose core business is digital or relies heavily on digital who may have cracked the agility question.

Waterfall is seen by most agile advocates as a relic of a time that had been and that should be forgotten and buried.

Waterfall is expensive, time consuming and unforgiving of errors.

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Design thinking, on the other hand may be equally as expensive especially for organizations with legacy burdens switching over to an agile way of work, has picking up errors early built right into its DNA and offers opportunities to succeed quickly or fail fast.

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A variation of the plan-do-check management methodology – the decision is easy to reach if one strips down the elements of the methodology into its bare bones fundamentals –design thinking allows the business or the delivery team to involve the customer for whom a product or service is being designed early on in the delivery effort. Design thinking offers up an opportunity to build a product truly needed by the customer and not one that was assumed the customer needs.


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