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Design thinking in HR – why it’s fun! Part 3

By | S. Naga Siddharth – SPAR Hypermarkets India

What are the typical triggers that would launch you to start using design thinking at work?

A business problem. Hence, it becomes extremely important to continuously have what can be called exploratory conversations with business leaders to listen to both said and unsaid pain points and things that are not working for them. Not everyone likes to talk about areas of difficulty or problems, so, that might take some authenticity.

Some of the typical areas that are conversation starters for deeper exploration are:

  1. Generational issues – common, widespread, much spoken about, leads to surprises for business leaders, most importantly a huge proportion of the workforce
  2. Customer issues – focus on how customer complaints were solved (that gives a clear indication of the culture and empowerment)
  3. Input factor issues – could be supply chain, procurement, inventory and so on. Whatever the business leader looks at as being his inputs. That’s something that can always do with some design tuning.
  4. Resource issues – this is rich territory when it comes to manpower allocation. Most businesses are perpetually ramping down on manpower. If design tuning can help increase productivity / reduce inefficiencies, nothing like it.

The other constituency that holds rich quantity of leads are HR partners themselves. Issues worth prospecting around are:

  1. Hiring issues – typically a referral program that isn’t working, line managers who are running 8 rounds of interviews and rejecting 98% of candidates, etc
  2. Appraisal issues – Managers not interested in having quality conversations with employees
  3. Training – not enough nominations, frequent drop outs, L3 measurement of training not done, etc
  4. Career – career programs beginning and ending with a career ladder (often without a wall to rest on either!)

Next steps are usually to validate inklings of problems and also inklings of possible solutions. These are best achieved through “what if” questions to two sets of people

  1. the impacted population
  2. change blockers who need to become change makers

Once done, the design expert is ready to prototype, run it through management clearances and start making impact at the ground level.


S Naga Siddharth (Siddhu) works on Talent, Org. Effectiveness and Innovation at SPAR Hypermarkets India. In his career, Siddhu has worked across industries of Airline, IT, Healthcare and Retail. A keen author, his ebook on HR Design and HR metrix “….is, dare I say it, revolutionary…” according to Dr. Marshall Goldsmith in his foreword.

His other ebooks on Checklist for People Managers, Compensation design and HR analytics in 10 Tweets are all available on Amazon. @nagasiddharth is his Twitter handle

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Ramesh Ranjan

A Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Visiting Professor, Content Manager & Editor. Ex IIM NASSCOM LRC, ex VP NHRD Bangalore Chapter, ex VP-HR@Schneider Electric, Head HR@ APC, Caltex,Co Systems, Natural Remedies. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rameshranjan/

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