Design thinking is an iterative process of creative problem solving. At its core, Design Thinking is all about people, and ensuring that we create products, services, and processes that best serve the people who we are creating them for.
This leads to significantly better solutions, and so we always recommend that anyone who's ever involved in creating a solution for any organization starts off by asking what is the real human need behind the solution?
Design Thinking is important because it can help you:
- Discover unmet needs and gives you a faster learning curve.
- Reduces the risk of launching new initiatives, something that we discuss at length in our Design Sprints page.
- You can find 10x solutions, that is solution that will have ten times the impact that the current way of doing things.
What's the key problem you're solving, and why is it important?
With Design Thinking, we try to build a solution that is a compromise of three key factors:
- Human Needs. Asking the right questions and speaking to the right people to ensure that we are building something that truly addresses a real human need.
- Technology. The trend that every company in the world will eventually be a software company is quickly accelerating, and so of course we need to clearly understand what's feasible with the currently available technology.
- Economics. Nobody has the luxury of working with an unlimited budget, and so this reality must always be firmly in the minds of everyone working in the project.
Design Thinking is not only for designers, anyone can use it. It just requires a simple change in mindsets and the ability to embrace tackling problems from a new perspective.
Design Thinking Stages.
While Design Thinking is not a rigid process. It's best to think of it a general framework that you can work within. The typical stages of Design Thinking are as follows:
- Empathise. The idea is to actually meet and speak with the people who will use and interact with whatever you are building, to get a better understanding of the challenges that they face.
- Define. Based on the above discussions, we clearly define the most pressing needs and pain points of the people you spoke with, plus any additional insights that you discovered.
- Ideate. At this stage, we begin to challenge any existing assumptions and brainstorm creative ideas for potentially innovative solutions that may be 10x better than what exists now. We often use Design Sprints for this stage and the following stages.
- Prototype. We build the roughest and smallest thing we can to be able to actually test our potentially innovative solutions. This can be anything from a paper-prototype of an app, to a dummy marketing landing page, to even a fake AI bot that actually has a human behind it doing the real work!
- Test. We go back out to the field and test the prototypes with the people who would eventually use the fully-completed solution. We will often give them usability challenges (such as accomplishing a particular goal) and see how quickly and easily they are able to accomplish the challenge. If appropriate, we will audio and video record the test for later analysis as well.
One thing that is worth keeping in mind is that the various stages do not have to be in this precise order. Design Thinking should be viewed holistically, each stage gives you further insights into the problems and solutions to the project at hand.
Design Thinking can be a great tool in your toolbox, if used correctly. It can be applied to areas as diverse as product design, services and experience design, business process and organizational change.
When it's done correctly, you'll move from a linear problem solving approach to an iterative approach, and you'll see a better picture of the various possible solutions and how impactful they might be to the real people that you are working
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