Orchestrating Experiences

Collaborative Design for Complexity
Orchestrating experiences
Harmonic Design's co-founder and CEO, Patrick Quattlebaum, and co-author, Chris Risdon, share their design philosophy and practical applications.

Customer experiences are increasingly complicated—with multiple channels, touchpoints, contexts, and moving parts—all delivered by fragmented organizations. How can you bring your ideas to life in such complexity? Orchestrating Experiences is a practical guide for designers and everyone struggling to create products and services in complex environments.
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You are looking for ways to address these three critical challenges for organizations.

  • How to evolve from shipping disconnected products and touchpoints quickly to crafting end-to-end experiences that unfold gracefully over time and space
  • How to break down operational silos and enable effective, efficient human-centered design collaboration
  • How to bridge the gap between fuzzy-front-end strategy (“What should we do?’”) to nuts-and-bolts execution (“What we did”)

This book takes aim at these challenges. Inspired and informed by our talented collaborators in service design and user experience, Patrick and Chris will share language, concepts, and approaches that enable people across an organization to envision, plan, and design customer experiences together.

Excerpt from Orchestrating Experiences

Chapter 9: Crafting a Tangible Vision

When you work in a small business, such as a startup, you can get everyone to play off the same sheet of music more easily. The larger your organization, however, the greater the challenge of understanding the end-to-end experiences you want to enable and why. Hierarchy, functional silos, and distributed teams create communication and collaboration barriers. Strategy is distributed in slides with terse bullet points that get interpreted in multiple ways. The vision for the end-to-end experience is lost in a sea of business objectives, channel priorities, and operational requirements. The result: painful dissonance when the dream was a beautifully orchestrated experience.

This chapter is about working with others to craft a tangible vision for your product or service—a North Star. These approaches will help your organization embrace a shared destiny and collaboratively create the conditions for better end-to-end experiences.

The Importance of Intent

The use of the word intent has increased dramatically in the halls of most large corporations. You may have intent owners or leaders in your organization or intent statements as part of your strategy and execution process. Intent is an important concept to understand and align with to get things done, especially with the complexity inherent to orchestrating end-to-end experiences.
“Many corporations have begun to embrace the concepts of strategic intent, as well as its close sibling, lean management.”

Strategic Intent and Lean Management

In the late 1980s, management consultants Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad studied the reasons Japanese companies were eclipsing their Western competitors in innovation and business outcomes. They coined the term strategic intent to codify how these organizations focused their employees on the same target. Instead of a generic mission statement, there was a simple, inspiring rallying cry. Yearly strategic planning was replaced with pairing near-term goals with the freedom for employees to determine the steps to achieve them. [1] Hamel and Prahalad argued that these practices motivated employees to find inventive ways of creating great outcomes despite relatively scarce resources.

In the decades since, many corporations have begun to embrace the concepts of strategic intent, as well as its close sibling, lean management. If you work in a medium- to large-sized organization, you likely see the tentacles of lean making their way into every nook and cranny—small, cross-functional teams, kanban boards, value stream mapping, SMART goals, and so on. The uniting philosophy behind these tactics is to empower small teams to deliver upon strategic intent through extreme focus and collaboration, as well as to streamline or remove processes that don’t directly result in customer value. In this way, lean management is one of the primary means to drive to the destination evoked in the strategic intent.

Commander’s Intent and Agile

Another strain of intent common in organizations derives from the military: commander’s intent. In this context, intent is a commander’s concise statement for the purpose and desired end state of a military operation. Well-crafted intent “must be understood two echelons below the issuing commander” and “focus subordinates on what has to be accomplished in order to achieve success.” [2] While this sounds top down, commander’s intent sets the context for a dialogue between those responsible for conceptual approaches and those crafting detailed execution plans. Figure 9.1 shows the relationship between intent and execution, from the U.S. Army’s The Operations Process (ADRP 5-0) field guide. [3]
Figure: The relationship between intent and execution


[1] Hamel, G., and C. K. Prahalad. Competing for the Future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996.
[2] U.S. Army, The Operations Process, ADRP 5-0 (PDF). Washington DC: Army Publishing Directorate, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
[3] Ibid.

Orchestrating Experiences

Collaborative Design for Complexity

By Chris Risdon & Patrick Quattlebaum

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Product details

  • Published: May 2018
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1933820-73-6
  • Ebook ISBN: 978-1933820-74-3

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