One bank’s HCD journey

IMG_1117Like many organizations all over the world, Bank B embarked on a journey to infuse Human-Centered Design (HCD) into the way they work.

They adopted a System of Innovation, and began training their staff in batches. This was done with the vision that everyone will be able to work with an innovation-mindset in the future and that they will all be able to speak the same lingo.

Innovation is not just the domain of digital or IT folks, it’s for everyone!


The staff from the innovation lab took the lead to spearhead the use of design thinking methods to problem-solving and opened the forum up to any department which has a need.

First, the facilitators will meet up with the various project sponsors across the bank to listen to their needs and to design a workshop or brainstorm session with their intended stakeholders using design thinking methods.

This approach has been well received and has transformed the way they tackle challenges.

Some of the topics they have covered include:

  • How to improve the staff onboarding experience?
  • How to improve the equity derivatives process?
  • How to increase digital acceleration in the legal department?
  • How to improve work efficiency within the compliance functions?
  • How to improve the online banking experience?
  • How to improve the account opening process?

Tips for your innovation journey

Having gone on this journey for the past two years, Bank B shared some tips that would hopefully be useful in your own implementation or experience with HCD.

  1. Combine different methodologies

HCD methods can be used broadly across all types of departments and topics for problem solving. No single HCD methodology can be considered the be all and end all.

They complement all your existing product, digital development methodologies like Agile for technical projects and Six Sigma for process improvements.

Whilst many of these established methodologies help organizations get the job done in terms of building a digital product, or improving existing processes, combining different HCD methods truly allow the outcomes to be more human-centric by gathering better insights, getting input from important stakeholders and even getting buy-in from senior management for new ideas.

  1. Workshop space

As most staff in organizations work in a typical office environment with rows of personal cubicles or desks, you should consider setting up a dedicated space for HCD activities.

It does not have to be a large conference space but an area that can fit about 20 people and work in two distinct areas for breakout sessions with a workshop layout, would facilitate interaction and participation.

You can keep it casual with sofas and benches instead of a classroom style but cater for sufficient walls and boards for the teams to stick up flipcharts, posters and post-its as part of the sessions.

  1. Collaborate to innovate

In most workshops or group discussions, the facilitator or leader is usually the one doing all the talking and spearheading the discussion.

For HCD workshops, it is highly recommended to involve everyone as much as you can during these sessions. By nominating group members to take turns to present ideas, exchange opinions or simply to summarize and represent what’s done in the group to other groups would put everyone on the same page.

Doing this also keeps everyone on their toes and to be constantly engaged in the discussions. Most importantly, it helps to build consensus and ownership of the ideas to take forward together as a team.

Get more out of HCD!

Together, these tips give you a glimpse on how you can embark on your HCD journey to gather feedback, arrange them into meaningful categories, and then prioritize them for future action.

Drop us a lineto have a chat if you would like to experience innovation in action!


Customer Journey Map

A useful tool to help you improve your products or services is an exercise of mapping out your customer journey or experience map. This activity allows you to look at the user’s interaction with your product or service from various angles and gives your team an opportunity to  innovate or improve upon it.

The customer journey map lays out the user’s experience from the initial contact with your brand and maps all the key interactions throughout the engagement.

If you look at all the training providers out there, there are many ways to do this and we’ve adapted our methodology to be able to map out a concise and useful summary of the customer journey / experience.


You can run this activity by:

  • Identifying a user journey you wish to improve upon
  • Gathering a diverse group of stakeholders
  • Decide which personas you would like for it to represent
  • Discuss as a group what are the key steps, tasks or interactions in this journey and select a member to write it out on post-its and stick them horizontally across the work area
  • Continue with the group discussion to map out touch points, thoughts, emotions and opportunities or new ideas in corresponding rows horizontally
  • Use a different colour post-it for the various emotions so you can quickly see where the areas of improvement are
  • Collaborate and focus on the opportunities for improvements or new ways of doing a task. These can later be evaluated, prioritized and taken up as separate projects.

Rose, Thorn, Bud

IMG_8714One of the most popular of Design Thinking activities is called Rose, Thorn, Bud. Its based off the idea of the Boy Scouts of America who are taught to be methodical, thorough and analytical about each situation they encounter. Scouts are routinely encouraged to identify one positive experience (Rose), one negative experience (Thorn), and one new goal or insight (Bud).

Adapted for use as a design method, this structure provides an opportunity to analyze a project, process or problem and reveals areas for you to focus on and plan your next steps.

A simple way you can run this activity is  by:

  • Identifying a topic/ project for this exercise
  • Gathering a diverse group of stakeholders
  • Give each participant a marker and 3 post-it pads
  • Explain the topic and color key
  • Rose = Things that are positive (Pink)
  • Thorn = Things that are negative (Blue)
  • Bud = Things that have potential (Green)
  • Get each participant to generate as many points as possible
  • Only include one issue, idea or insight per post-it.

Source : Luma Institute