Design thinking is a new approach to business that puts the design of the product at the forefront. The hook, the standout feature, the brilliance of a product is its design. Many companies have started to use design thinking to drive innovation and boost sales.
Corporates such as Apple, Nike and Tesla have put a huge amount of research and resources into the design of their products. These products have a ‘wow’ factor that make them highly functional, desirable and valuable.
Good design stems from design thinking – letting designers solve problems of ergonomics while making the products looks sleek, attractive and usable. Entire businesses are changing their outlook to include design thinking as a way to reinvent their products and push innovation to new levels.
The focus of this innovation has changed from being marketing focused to user-experience-focused and from engineering-driven to design-driven. Design thinking emphasises logic, imagination and intuition in innovative products that benefit the consumer. It focuses on solutions rather than problems, which builds ideas rather than breaking them down.
Design thinking is a foundation of innovation
Human-centric innovation starts with the development of ideas and an understanding of the consumer’s needs. Customer needs are the source of new ideas that encourage innovation. A deep understanding of the consumer and their problems is needed when it comes to designing innovative products.
Design thinking enables businesses to engage with potential consumers in order to learn about their specific needs. These results are then analysed and incorporated into the design of products which makes them more useful and profitable. Consumer insight is gained from real-world tests, historical data and in-depth market research.
Corporates don’t have to have design experience to think like a designer. They can design the way they manage, lead and innovate in a strategic manner. Mapping out a strategy is the first step to thinking like a designer.
A growth mindset is key
A growth mindset is the willingness to make mistakes and learn from them in order to grow. This way of thinking is a journey of learning and embracing failures to drive innovation. It fosters creativity and builds on achievements to improve a product or service.
When a business embraces a growth mindset, it encourages employees to take risks. In turn, this leads to innovative creations and collaborations that vastly improve the capabilities of offerings. Without risk, there can be no growth.
Executives and managers should encourage experimentation and idea-generation. Make it safe to fail early on in the process and the predictability of future problems will become more successful. A growth mindset – one that treats failure as an opportunity – is needed for design thinking.
How to embrace design thinking at work
To encourage innovation and design thinking in the workplace, there are 10 basic steps to follow. These processes will instill a culture of design thinking and help your business to solve problems in order to meet the needs of consumers:
- Discover – Design thinking starts with the discovery of an end goal. Research the problem or topic in order to learn about it. Be motivated by the discovery and try to find what opportunities it can present for your business.
- Observe – Watch consumers as they interact with your current products or services. Look for any problems that they encounter. Is there a disconnect between your offering and the consumer? See if there are any shortcuts that will make the product or service easier to use.
- Empathise – Innovation is all about understanding the customer and their needs. They are real people, not just users of your offering. You need to care about their needs and their experience with using your product. Engage with them and ask questions so that you can empathise and understand them better.
- Listen – To improve your insights into the consumer’s needs, listen to their personal stories. What are they telling you? What drives them? What are their goals? These insights will allow you to design a brilliant product or service that genuinely helps them.
- Frame – Change your perspective and ask yourself what you, as a consumer of your product, will value. By framing the problem, you can find the best solution for your customers. This will also help you to make sense of your research and approach your data from the customer’s point of view.
- Ideate – Once you have a deep understanding of your consumers, start to think about the possibilities of ideas for offerings. Brainstorm these ideas and ask yourself what else you can do to create innovative products and services.
- Decide – Take your brainstorm and vote for the best options based on knowledge of your consumers. Which offering will be the most desirable, feasible and viable? Allow your team to work together to decide on the best ideas. Choose two or three ideas to test.
- Prototype – Use prototypes to test ideas and explore potential improvements before releasing the product to the consumer. Prototypes can be beta versions of software, or three-dimensional, functional products that are pre-released to selected consumers. The value of a prototype comes from the feedback you receive from users.
- Validate – Invite selected users to test your prototype and then validate their ideas and feedback. Their responses will tell you whether it is a good idea to press on with the idea, or to kill it and find another solution. This validation will save you time and resources.
- Iterate – Treat your initial ideas as steps to finding the perfect solution. Design thinking is not a linear process; it is an iterative process that continues until there is nothing more to add or subtract from the offering.
Design thinking is a great way to find good solutions to complex problems. It will enable a business to better understand its consumers and their needs. A useful product that is easy to use will automatically become more desirable and profitable. These products will be regarded as innovative and game-changing.