Design Thinking
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IBM remains one of the leaders of the technology industry for good reason. Once the dominant player in computer hardware – from the mainframe to the PC – the company managed to change its focus more towards enterprise services and software engineering with great success.

Their influence throughout the entire IT world still reverberates after all these years. Big Blue is also an expert in the area of user experience and application design as illustrated by their IBM Design Thinking group. Let’s take a closer look at how they build solutions to see if these concepts inspire your own team’s efforts.

The Guiding Principles of IBM Design Thinking

The Agile methodology continues to gain popularity for software development projects across the industry; it’s safe to assume it is now a standard. The guiding principles of IBM Design Thinking reflect the influence of Agile as well as DevOps. The core directive, however, hasn’t changed in decades – driving business success by “helping users achieve their goals.”

Prototyping is championed, as they allow new ideas to get into the hands of users as quickly as possible. Diverse teams combining business, design, and technical resources help businesses achieve a competitive advantage through agility. IBM defines this process as a loop, or a continuous cycle made up of “observing”, “reflecting”, and “making.”

These concepts, obviously influenced by Agile and DevOps, make up the foundation for Big Blue’s modern IT solution delivery framework. Understanding users and their needs while building great applications at the speed of the modern business is the ultimate goal. IBM feels emphasizing users and their goals, instead of an application’s features and functionality ultimately leads to a better product.

Diverse Teams build Better Solutions

IBM’s software team structure is made up of managers, designers, and engineers. The ideal ratio is one manager and designer for every eight engineers. The team follows the self-management concepts that have traditionally made up a core principle of Agile.

Business stakeholders, while staying in the loop, allow the team the autonomy to build a solution that meets the needs of the end users. Collaboration between designers, engineers, and the user community are essential for the ultimate success of the project. As IBM states: “This kind of radical collaboration requires a foundation of trust, respect, and shared ownership across the team.”

IBM’s take on Agile and DevOps is worthy of further exploration for any group involved in software engineering.

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