How Design Thinking Can Accelerate Acquisition Outcomes
Mission results on major programs directly result from effective acquisitions. So how does the Government continue to innovate to drive acquisition success?
As the Government looks for new ways to improve acquisition, Design Thinking as a discipline offers more than the next great technological breakthrough. This human-centric and highly iterative discipline can guide mission-critical acquisitions.
Design Thinking is a disciplined process that brings a more holistic approach to product or service design. Design Thinking inspires and evolves business processes. It brings together human, technological, and business concerns to solve complex business problems through a fresh lens.
Mission-critical acquisitions benefit from being human-centric. From the earliest stages of defining, acquisition professionals must consider the people that are most affected by the procurement of certain goods or services. Taking this specific view provides a wider lens to push an acquisition to better fit the needs of the users, customers, and citizens. Ask: who needs the results of this acquisition and why?
The problem statement is not static. Putting people at the center of the acquisition generates new problems to address. For example, while buying office furniture for a facility may seem straightforward, a consideration of the workforce’s health concerns, preference for teleworking, social interactions between teams, and privacy needs of supervisors results in a much more complex and, ultimately, more holistic problem to solve. A mission-critical acquisition addresses all of the issues head-on, placing emphasis on problem definition and innovation followed by an acquisition that supports the best solution.
Ordinarily, acquisitions follow grooves, where methods and approaches are repeatable. Mission-critical acquisitions cannot fall into this tendency. Government acquisition offices must make sure these acquisitions are tailored to suit the specific mission needs. A mission-critical acquisition considers multiple options, quickly prototyping each. A fast-paced approach allows successful ideas to be tested and poor ideas to fail quickly. These acquisitions depend on industry engagement and innovation.
While Design Thinking principles are easy to understand, they are difficult to implement. Acquisition professionals must generate more holistic requirements in partnership with their program counterparts, expand the scope of the problem to understand the priority issues, and test concepts. Mission-critical acquisitions, using Design Thinking techniques, create impactful and proven solutions that ultimately lead to superior mission results.