There are multiple ways to approach work with clients and customers. In the architecture and engineering world, the client often comes to the table with a pre-conceived notion of what they believe their company needs and wants, and they communicate that idea to the contractor, who then executes on deadline and within budget. However – the downside of this method can be that the end user of the facility or environment being designed isn’t an integral part of the decision-making process from the beginning – and when the facility is delivered, it may be with the perceived priorities of the leadership in mind, not necessarily those of the end user.

There is a solution-based strategy, born from the world of design, developed to solve complex problems like this – and it applies to any industry. Design Thinking.

The Design Thinking Methodology – also referred to as Human-Centered Design – promotes stakeholder-inclusive discussion early-on that allows for clearer understanding of existing workplace issues, employee priorities and overall project requirements. BRPH uses it to extract the stories that our designs need to tell – to not only help our clients prioritize – but to serve their cultural and business needs today, tomorrow and in the future.

Inherent in the BRPH “Design Through Discovery” process – our adaptation of the Design Thinking methodology – is a platform that enables an organized and moderated method of seeking both convergent and divergent ideas from all sides of the table, which can then be evaluated based on feasibility and overall desirability. So rather than simply identifying a problem and creating a solution without context, Design Thinking helps to find creative solutions that directly address intended outcomes.

Human-Centered Design – developing solutions in the service of people – leverages a combination of 1,000+ different interactive exercises that have been created to promote active listening and full understanding of the challenges that need to be solved and the best ways to solve them – before the actual work starts. Some methods include immersion to build empathy, prioritization exercises, visual voting, affinity clustering to sort out similar ideas, stakeholder mapping and storyboarding.

Making our clients an integral part of the Design Thinking process from early on in a project is a differentiator for BRPH. Early incorporation of the client’s key stakeholders ensures we all get to the right solution as a team – the first time.

Design Thinking ensures any design and engineering decisions that we propose to our clients are made with corporate cultural alignment and an enhanced end user/customer experience in mind.

A Design Thinking session is moderated by a facilitator, who asks plenty of questions, with the goal of identifying what solutions will truly serve the client’s needs. Gaining input from all players in the room and applying some thoughtful analysis principles that identify patterns and enable translation of that research into actionable insights is critical to the success of this process.

Companies like Disney, GE and Pepsi have incorporated Design Thinking into their cultures, and they’re doing it well. At BRPH, we’ve also learned that by facilitating the Design Thinking process early in the planning process with a client, we can increase positive outcomes from a design, timeline and budget standpoint.

You can learn more about Design Thinking through the following websites:

Jessica Roddenberry is a market sector lead designer for BRPH and a Design Thinking facilitator.

Jessica Roddenberry

AIA, MBA, NCARB, LEED AP, Education Design Lead, Sr. Architect

Jessica Roddenberry is BRPH’s Lead Designer for Education, and while her diverse architectural background encompasses everything from commercial to aviation projects, her focus is in education projects. She facilitates Design Thinking Workshops with stakeholders and end users that assist clients in navigating the complex challenges posed by educational needs in the 21st century.