Representation of a project management grid that include hills, playback, and sponsor users

The Keys align us

Great user outcomes don’t happen by accident. They require great user-centered leadership practices. The Keys of IBM Design Thinking help keep teams focused and aligned on outcomes that matter to users.

Let’s talk process

In practice, complex problems often call for complex teams––and complex teams can be a challenge to manage. Project management frameworks can help manage complexity. We might divide teams into “squads” or “workstreams,” or we might divide time into “sprints” or “phases.” We might even standardize around a common process for teams to follow.

No matter how we organize a team, delivering great user outcomes requires us to stay focused and aligned on what matters to users.

The Keys of IBM Design Thinking are our three most important techniques for diverse teams to reflect together as we move from idea to outcome. They help us get aligned, stay aligned, and stay in touch with real-world needs––even when we’re deep in the work. Though they’ve been honed through our experience with our largest teams, we’ve found the Keys to be invaluable for teams of all sizes.

Hills align us as teams

Hills are statements of intent written as meaningful user outcomes. They tell you where to go, not how to get there, empowering teams to explore breakthrough ideas without losing sight of the goal.

Representation of a project management grid that includes hills

Playbacks align us across time

Playbacks bring stakeholders into the loop in a safe space to tell stories and exchange feedback. They reveal misalignment and measure progress against the big picture problem you’re solving.

Representation of a project management grid that includes playbacks

Sponsor Users align us with their reality

Sponsor Users are real-world users that regularly contribute their domain expertise to your team. They help you stay in touch with real users’ real-world needs throughout the project.

Representation of a project management grid that includes sponsor users