Case Study

Bringing Design Thinking Into An Organization

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Client: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is a leading contractor for the US Government in the areas of Aerospace & Defense, Space, Energy, and Emerging Technology. Throughout its illustrious history, Lockheed Martin has led through outstanding engineering, sourcing innovative technologies, and a strong commitment to customer requirements and deliver.

The Challenge

How does an engineering-based organization study the application of design thinking and adapt it into its systems to be more innovative, productive and profitable?

His approach was straightforward: immerse himself in design thinking so he could better articulate his strategy as to how to integrate this approach within the organization.

In two weeks, Salt Flats designed an exploratory design thinking curriculum, arranged for five one-on-one interviews with leading designers, and researched and delivered a 100+ page design thinking manual.

In Q1 2017, Steve will design and pilot design thinking workshops for his leadership, with a planned rollout later in the year.

By the Numbers

  • 2 weeks from start to finish for the sprint
  • 12 design thinking resources researched
  • $10,000 in cost for initial test pilot

The Results

  • Studying is a critical first step in understanding an innovation and its potential application within the organization
  • Establishing a short timeline will accelerate the study and determine if worth pursuing further
  • Integrating the content, in this case design thinking methodology, is as much about the cultural approach as it is the tools / curriculum
  • Going slow to go fast is a recommended pathway to long-term adoption

Q+A with Steve

Steve Betza | Director, Innovation of the Future, Lockheed Martin Company

What was your approach to the two-week sprint?

In my role, I am continually seeking new ideas and applications, then bringing them to the organization. And I learn by submersing and then surfacing, so going deep in a two-week curriculum and then reflecting for several weeks afterward is a good approach for me personally.

Why consider design thinking for Lockheed Martin’s systems?

As a 25+ year executive within Lockheed Martin, I have a firm grasp of the complexity of our organization, systems and culture. I have an intuitive sense that design thinking will complement our strong engineering skills with a structured approach to problem-solving.

What were the steps to deliver on your research?

I knew that I needed to immerse myself in design thinking practices and needed a structured research approach to seek out approaches, tools, and how to’ methodologies.

We agreed upfront to a tight timeframe and amplify our learnings in a purposefully aggressive window. The study would have two basic components: five interviews of design thinking leaders and a compilation of a best practices that would be the delivery of a final research project.

As we got into the program, the compilation of design thinking tools and practices was most helpful to me. To be able to review presentations, books, instruction manuals was critical to understand theories and how they might apply to Lockheed Martin.
We chose to pilot and only conduct one interview with a leading designer. We allowed ourselves to stay flexible without our process, and this allowed more time for online research.

At the end of the two weeks, I consolidated the research and wrote a memo to my leadership on how we can bring design thinking into our process-oriented systems.
With their support, we will confidently develop curriculum and training in Q1 2017.


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