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Design Thinking and Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: UW Design Summit III

Stimulating consistent growth is a challenge for many credit unions today. Through nontraditional problem solving methodologies, credit unions can generate innovative ideas that will help them tap into unrealized potential and ultimately satisfy members' needs.

Executive Summary

Innovation is the goal of design thinking—a methodology that applies cross disciplinary collaboration, creativity, and ideation to any problem. Design thinking puts people at the center of the design and development process. At its best it crosses disciplines and institutions. Design thinking is a set of tools, methods, and practices that can strengthen credit unions’ problem-solving processes.

As credit unions develop products to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers, leaders should prioritize sideways glances toward insights from outside of banking. After all, without meaningful insights, innovation can’t get started. Filene recently supported a UW–Madison Design Summit, a forum showcasing how design thinking has improved companies and industries across the world. Credit unions can adopt design-thinking-based approaches to generate innovative ideas when faced with constraints that may jeopardize organizational strategy and operational efficiency.

What is the research about?

Now in its third year, the Design Summit brought together experts from companies such as Trek and Kohler as well as officials from the UW and Stanford University to share strategies on how to improve problem solving through human-centered design (HCD). One of the most heavily emphasized themes of the evening was interdisciplinary collaboration. Design thinking relies heavily on unifying science and art. Moreover, speakers discussed how going beyond ideation by actually testing and prototyping ideas generally leads to favorable outcomes. However, none of this is possible without risk and creativity. Michael Shanks of Stanford University called design thinking a “menu of attitudes, methods, and possibilities.”

What are the credit union implications?

Design can be an effective means to tackle issues related to consumer finance. By injecting creativity into the ideation process, credit unions have an opportunity to develop robust products and services that will prove useful to consumers. Additionally, design thinking encourages credit unions to collaborate both internally and externally. Cross-departmental interactions may take place between business functions that traditionally don’t intersect, leading to fresh perspectives.

Staying ahead of members involves ideation and collaboration, but it will require extensive prototyping to determine if ideas are ready for prime time. Why keep going back to traditional problem-solving processes? This report will help credit unions
realize the power of design thinking and how innovation is the key to long-term success.