The Roundtable Blockchain meets Design Thinking

Within the digitalswitzerland challenge the Roundtable Blockchain has defined the ambitious bet to implement a commercial register MVP on Blockchain until September 2017. Last week the Roundtable Blockchain invited participants to a workshop in order to attain this goal. The participants were representatives from the commercial registry from Geneva and Zug, notaries, lawyers, IT-, finance-, and blockchain experts.

The conceptual pillars

In order to get one step closer to that goal the constituting members of the Roundtable (IBM, Swisscom and EY) invited further partners to a workshop.

The participants were representatives from the commercial registry from Geneva, Zug and Zurich, lawyers, IT-, finance-, and blockchain experts. The workshop followed the design thinking methodology and was organized and led by IBM. You can read more about IBM’s take on design thinking here.

Central to this concept is its human-centered approach. From a methodological point of view, this means that solutions to a real problem need to be user-oriented. If an end-user doesn’t like your product or process, he is not likely to use it again.

In order to gather the right user-insights, it is of utmost importance to get the right team. This is the second pillar of the method: A right team means a diverse group of people, which through their individual knowledge of the analysed problem can contribute a variety of inputs and ideas. Equally significant is that the team is empowered. This means that the team should unite enough knowledge, competencies and authority so that solutions generated through this approach are knocking on open doors.

To close the circle, the last element is about reinvention; design thinking is an iterative process, which in turn means that new or already established solutions, conventions, hypothesis and conditions have to be questioned all the time. These three elements – a user-centred approach, a diverse team and reinvention – interlock to be the springboard of tangible actions.

Actions: Observe, Reflect and Make

By observing what has been made, reflecting on the observation, adjustments can be the consequence. These three actions are combined to a cycle in IBM’s take on design thinking.

In this particular workshop, the participants defined different personas, which are confronted every day with the difficulties of incorporating companies in Switzerland: A Swiss bank employee in charge of opening bank accounts for new companies, a Swiss lawyer which helps entrepreneurs find their company in Switzerland and an employee of the commercial registry office.

These are from a procedural point of view the main stakeholders in incorporating a company in Switzerland. And although all three work on the same challenge, their problem statement and the way they look at it can differ dramatically. Just working in the public or private sector can lead to different views about how a problem is conceptualized and where the main difficulties lie, when incorporating companies in Switzerland.

In this workshop it was substantial that involved parties would get a common understanding of the different personas and their issues when incorporating companies in Switzerland. Teams were mixed so that people from the public sector would mix with lawyers, engineers and business people.

By discussing how these different personas handle their everyday tasks and profiting from the first hand insights from the experts, holistic pictures of how these personas act, think, speak and feel during their work could be assembled. Action patterns could be observed.

In a next step the participants reflected on how this big picture could be translated into a collective understanding of these personas’ workflow. Reflecting on the workflow, duplication of a process and inefficiencies between the involved parties as well as needs on how to facilitate the process of incorporating companies in Switzerland could be defined.

And after that the six hours of workshop had already passed by.

One step left to a tangible product

You see, design thinking is intense. It demands full immersion of all participants. In this case, the complexity and difficulties lie in the multistakeholder process: entrepreneurs, banks, lawyers as well as employees of the commercial registry are involved – all having different needs and demands.

Given this setting, the workshop was a success. Especially because the proposed solution to improve the process of incorporating companies was user-oriented, the participants combined a variety of perceptions as well as knowledge from different disciplines, and all participants were willing to question their daily workflow.

The next step for the Blockchain Roundtable is to create a product. Based on the workflow analysis , which could be translated in a need-statement, the Blockchain Roundtable will plunge into the make-stage. The goal is to give concrete form to concept, explore other options, prototype a MVP (minimal viable product) and push for real outcomes.


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