Design Thinking to Improve Work Processes

, Cecilia Lejeune, Design Thinking

Rakuten Institute of Technology (hereinafter referred to as RIT) has a mission to help Rakuten teams with innovation and improve Rakuten products and services using cutting-edge technologies. RIT doesn’t directly collaborate with actual clients, but with long-term partners belonging to the same global company. As a consequence, the success of RIT providing such services, is tied to the level of trust and common understanding between RIT and its partners. In RIT Paris team, we had the intuition that our team could benefit from a holistic study of its operations, using a more user-centric approach than our traditional tech-centric approach. We internally developed skills in fields like UX Design, Design Thinking and Design Sprint, and we put them in practice to test our intuition.

With the will to improve ourselves and to discover what user-centric and holistic approach could bring to our team, we conducted a study on how to improve our relationships with our business partners. None of us lives in isolation, especially in a large company like Rakuten. So we tried new mindsets and tools to deal with the complexity of our ecosystems : our mindset was Design Thinking, and our tools were the Service Design methods. 

4 angles of approach

Within only eight weeks of study, we found ways to re-balance the human and technological aspects of RIT Paris operations. Today, we are standing one month after the conclusion, and RIT Paris members still keep the momentum, working on implementing the solutions we designed as a group. The truth is that we were not sure about what to expect from the study, perhaps some insights or statistics to be reused later. We certainly didn’t expected coming up with so many complementary concrete solutions, and getting so much open-minded interest and involvement from both RIT Paris team and RIT partner teams.

6 concrete solutions

The most important takeaway of this study for us, is that innovation and any advanced technologies, involve human interactions at all stages: design, development and integration. It doesn’t matter how innovative or exciting the technology is, human dimension should not be forgotten at any step, to be successful.

We now wish to build upon this experience and to offer our skills and tools to other teams in Rakuten. Whether they need to improve their internal organization, their relationships with other teams among the group, or a product or service, we are able to help them tackle the challenge and to support them. RIT’s core mission is to bridge the gap between research and business, and also to create the conditions and proper environment for innovation.