Innovation and Design Thinking (IDT) to foster Transformative Culture

DQI Bureau
New Update

Innovation and Design Thinking (IDT)

Public Sectors may start embracing the power of ‘Innovation and Design Thinking (IDT)’ to foster a culture of transformation away from traditional, create new opportunities, and withstand market competitiveness. While adopting Innovation would help generate new ideas and solutions, Design Thinking would necessitate a problem-solving approach that is ‘citizen-centric and iterative’ and focused towards achieving the desired solution.
It is more so as PSUs have to deal with the scale crossing 1.40 billion people and with the kind of variance be it demographic, geographic, rural-urban, literacy, education, digital literacy, and economic conditions.  At the same time, when it comes to those sectors and society at large that are economically unviable, have long payback periods, and don’t suit any financial model for the industry and private sector organizations. It is the Public Sectors that withstand that pressure working for the greater good and for the common mass aiming to join the mainstream of development. 
Therefore, it is important that PSUs augment and prepare themselves for the new age demand, expectations, and varying dynamism. One of the latest tools PSUs can explore is embracing the power of ‘Innovation and Design Thinking’ be it a product, service, or scheme. The aim is to understand, observe, and experience the minds and hearts of citizens and beneficiaries basis their needs and preferences. This would involve how PSUs prioritize empathy, creativity collaborative ideas, and intelligence to develop solutions that closely resonate with citizens.  

The Beginning: 

It would start with engaging citizens to understand their needs, AS-IS challenges, and their aspirations to join the mainstream of development. This may involve intense citizen surveys, interviews, field problems, and observations to gather insights. Make sure that the survey includes a varied set of users be it youths, kids, senior citizens, women, and categories such as farmers, students, illiterate, semi-literate, professionals, and their economic conditions. In DT terms we call this phase ‘Empathize’.
Then comes the ‘Define’ phase where you need to use the gathered inputs to insights to define the core issues faced by the citizens and beneficiaries and the opportunities in hand that PSUs can harness. It’s all about the reconciliation of information collected during the empathize phase to identify the problem statement and key issues and to address them. To understand better, you may create an analogy to that of a traditional method as a ‘Detailed Project Report (DPR)’. We must note that IDT is far from traditional and beyond obvious.

The Ideation Phase:

Here you can harness the knowledge, experiences, and power of your workforce and employees engaged in product development or service delivery to address the specific problem being faced by the citizens, by generating a wide range of ideas. We need to encourage creativity and diversity of perspectives during the brainstorming sessions. To give an analogy in a traditional way, you are familiar with ‘Business Process Re-Engineering or Government Process Reengineering (BPR/GPR). Make sure IDT is away from traditional and beyond obvious.

Prototype and Test Phase:

There comes the development of the prototype, Proof of Concept (POC) of potential solutions. These include wireframes, sketches, modeling, etc. such as developing a basic version of a software or application using rapid prototype software or wireframing tools. This would involve visual representation of user interface (UI) and User Experience Design (UX) using design software. The main aim of the prototype is to test and validate key aspects of the solutions being proposed such as usability, functionality, performance, scalability, etc.
Once the prototype is ready, it requires gathering feedback from citizens and users by testing the prototypes which would involve usability testing, focused survey groups, lead users to understand how well the proposed solutions meet user and citizen needs. Feedback from testing the prototype would entail further development and refinement, iterating through the design process until a solution is developed that effectively addresses the needs of the citizens and then proceeds for full-scale production and implementation. I do believe and strongly recommend that the entire IDT framework can very well be included in the DPR/ BPR/ GPR/RFP process.
My own experience suggests that the IDT would greatly help PSUs to develop industry engagement business models, adjust to organizational cultural shifts, adopt change management practices, and embrace the power of technology to its fullest. We should aim towards positioning India’s PSUs into a global powerhouse that involves various strategic initiatives in order to improve and enhance efficiency, innovation capabilities, market competitiveness, and global presence. This would also need a clear strategic vision and roadmap including a strong commitment from Board members, Senior Management and Officials. The need for the presence and promising future is to invest in R&D to develop cutting-edge technologies, products, and services that should meet global standards and address emerging market needs catering to the Indian and Global markets.
The need of the hour is to develop strategic partnerships, and collaboration with leading global companies, research institutions, and industry associations to access new markets, emerging technologies, and best practices. In my considered view joint ventures and technology transfer agreements would help accelerate innovation and market expansion both. To boost operational efficiency PSUs need to focus on end-to-end digitization, automation, lean management practices, an institutional mechanism to drive, must be agile/responsive to market dynamics, align to corporate governance ethics, and follow the mantra of ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’ a powerful empowerment tool ideated by Hon’ble PM to create such a system where administration and good governance are run without unnecessary interference.
Talent development, skill enhancement, and effective change management practices that help adopt market diversification and exploration goals of the PSUs both at domestic and international markets so as to reduce dependency on a specific industry or region would make PSUs distinct in their identity and would contribute to the development of export-oriented strategies and leverage India’s competitive advantage to increase market share and revenue from Global market. Added to sustainable development and CSR, PSUs can help create long-term value and enrichment for society driving economic growth and prosperity of the nation for a Greater Good and Global Good.
Authored by:
Golok Kumar Simli
Chief Technology Officer
Passport Seva Program (India/Global)
Ministry of External Affairs
Government of India