If you haven’t already heard of Design Thinking as it relates to business acceleration — you will. The world’s top brands, such as Apple, Airbnb, IBM, Samsung, and Google have adopted the Design Thinking process. Also, many major business schools like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT teach it.
What Is Design Thinking?
Simply put, Design Thinking is designing products, services, or processes for a specific user (customer). It is a process in which you seek to understand the user and provide a way to solve their problems. By placing user needs at the center of a product you develop more effective solutions to business challenges. Furthermore, by using the Design Thinking process you’ll discover opportunities for innovation and accelerate your business forward.
Designing Thinking, as it is applied to business strategy, was conceived by Hubert Simon in a book he authored in 1959 entitled “Creative Engineering”. He later received a Nobel Prize for his work on the application of design thinking to business problems. His thesis explained that design thinking can be used to solve problems in a user-centric way for any business — large or small. Furthermore, it focuses on attaining practical results and solutions that are:
- Technically feasible
- Economically viable
- Desired by the user
To be successful, product developers must adopt a ‘designer’s mindset and approach‘ using the following phases. Note: these phases are not linear, but can be implemented randomly:
- Frame a Question – What goals do you want to meet?
- Gather Information – Discover what the user really needs
- Generate Ideas – Look to new ways of satisfying the user
- Test to Learn – Refine your ideas by gathering feedback and making appropriate changes
- Share the Story – Craft a narrative to inspire users toward action
Using the Design Thinking Process
- Promote self-learning. Tolerate your own and others’ risk and failures to boost creativity.
- Foster a culture of critique openness.
- Ensure that your business decisions are driven by the ‘user’ as you consider your products, services, or processes.
- Extend your network and build relationships with a diverse group of peers that can provide insights into your business and personal challenges.
Every business needs to continually reassess its strategy in order to retain a competitive advantage. However, many times a strategy will crowd out insights and new thinking.
There are 5 variants of Design Thinking that embody how to use it most effectively…
- Empathize with the customer.
- Define the user’s needs, their problem(s), and how you’re going solve or alleviate them.
- Ideate – by challenging assumptions and create innovative ideas.
- Prototype your products or services.
- Test the solutions.
Design Thinking reduces the risk associated with launching a new product regardless of the industry you work in.
Under this process, the customer’s needs get transformed into products they want and desire. Clearly, it’s use reduces the risk for opening a new business, growing an existing business, and/or maintaining your competitive position. In the future, Design Thinking is a business model for development that will be used with much greater frequency by all businesses. Moreover, it will greatly assist in understanding the consumer, as well as developing your business. Everything is based upon the customer’s needs rather than offering a product then trying to ‘sell’ it to a potential user.