Design thinking is altering the way companies, especially young companies, are thinking about business. Although originally reserved for creative-types and artistic designers, proponents of design thinking contend that any discipline or area that requires human-centered problem solving and innovation can benefit from it.
Design thinking can help you to create, revamp, and push your brand forward so that your business stops existing and starts thriving.
At its core, design thinking is a problem solving strategy. It incorporates tools and approaches from designers use into a business strategy for a viable product or service. It focuses on possible solutions that take into account both technological feasibility and business implications. While it starts with innovative thinking, design thinking focuses on actionable items that will ultimately benefit both those who create the product and those who will receive it.
Design thinking is currently used by some top heavy hitters, including Apple, Sony, and Starbucks. It appeals immensely to the “new middle class,” 18-35 year-olds who are tech savvy, entrepreneurial spirited, and design-oriented. They’re using it to help their start-ups hit the ground running and appeal to customers and acquirers.
The first and perhaps most difficult step in the design thinking process is identifying the correct problem to be tackled. There are many problems that may be tangential to a deeper underlying issue. It’s important to get past those outlying or child issues and concentrate on the core of all the problems, the primary troublemaker. If it points to a weak point in your business, it might feel a little itchy or twitchy when you hit on it. That’s good. This isn’t an easy process, but it’s one that will ultimately root out tough problems and make your business strategy that much stronger for it.
Once the core issue is identified, frame it in a way that welcomes creative thinking. Try not to use established nouns, but describe what it is you want the noun to be able to do. So, instead of “make our e-checkout system more user-friendly,” try, “design a way to let customers quickly and easily purchase selected goods.”
From there, begin amassing possible solutions. Lots of them. Even if it seems obvious right off the bat what you should do, taking a look at the issue from multiple angles and perspectives will only help you to anticipate and account for any weaknesses in your plan and then test and choose the truly best solution. Groupthink can be a dangerous phenomenon for your company and it’s easy to fall into established tracklines because they’ve worked for you in the past. The purpose of design thinking, though, is to move outside of the grooves so your new tracks will be fresh.
Once you have a couple of the best possible solutions, create a safe environment for them to breathe and grow in. Try not to judge them based on past experiences with somewhat similar processes, but only take a hard look at them once they’ve expanded and had a chance to prove their worth, or lack of.
Take the best solution and put it into action! The discussion and design phases are complete. This is the time to bring your design thinking around full circle and reap the fruits of your labor.