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Generating successful solutions with Design Thinking

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Nov 4, 2021 1:59:54 PM
Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a concept that, as time goes by, is becoming more and more popular and necessary in business. It is a methodology, as well as a way of thinking, that guides you to create creative and innovative solutions, products and services.

Today we live in a dynamic and competitive market, so it is common to hear about strategies to strengthen companies, from investing in improving the quality of goods or services, reducing operating costs, exploring blue oceans and even using neuromarketing to make products catch the attention of consumers. However, sometimes it is necessary to take a step back to ask: What do I need to stand out, how can I generate a new idea, and what makes it successful and not die in the attempt?

For these kinds of situations Design Thinking is the perfect tool. In this blog I give you a little guide to help you understand how it works.

Index

  • What is it and what is it for?
  • What are its stages?
  • How to make it work?
  • The key to success of Design Thinking.

1. What is it and what is it for?

On its website, IDEO Deisgn Thinking, defines it as:

"... a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can turn into customer value and market opportunity." - Tim Brown. 

It is therefore, in essence, a process that focuses on understanding an end-user in order to design a unique, customised solution that meets their wants and needs. For this, Design Thinking is supported by a wide variety of tools and techniques, which allow designers to advance during the different stages of the process, discover important information and use it to make the solution being designed successful. It is worth noting that it was conceived to address complex situations, so it can be used to deal with the simplest to the most difficult problems.

As for its usefulness, although it was initially developed with the aim of designing new products, it is currently used in the design of services, processes, business models, value propositions, systems, customer experience, organisational cultures, educational, food and health challenges, among others.

If you want to know more about this tool, I recommend you to visit this blog: Design Thiking Defined

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2. What are its stages?

Like any process, it is composed of a series of activities, which are developed in such a way as to meet a specific objective. In this case, the methodology is divided into two phases, corresponding to the discovery of a problem and the design of a solution.

2.1. The discovery of a problem

Two activities can be found within this phase:

Empathy generation: where the stakeholders who are affected by the development of the solution must be identified. This in order to try to generate empathy with them, putting ourselves in their shoes, in order to understand what their main pains, desires and needs are. For this we have tools such as: interviews, observation, focus groups, Buyer Persona, Customer Journey, among others.

Problem definition: here we organise, filter and analyse the information obtained from the previous activity, in order to identify the problems that will give us the opportunity to design a unique, creative and innovative solution. Some tools we can use here are: empathy maps, Ishikawa diagrams, impact and effort matrix, among others.

2.2. Designing a solution

At the end of the problem definition, we enter into the design of the solution, where we find three other activities:

  • Ideation: to concentrate on the generation of ideas that offer a solution to the defined problem. The tool par excellence for this task is brainstorming, where it does not matter if the solution is complicated or simple, the objective is to put creativity to work to come up with as many ideas as possible.
  • Prototyping: as the name suggests, in this task we try to select some of the ideas generated, and then try to build a prototype of them. The objective is to show a tangible type of design so that the interested parties can give us feedback and, based on this, improve it until it is perfect. This can be done using mock-ups, storyboards, a minimum viable product, among others.
  • Testing: finally, it is necessary to validate the designed solution through testing, which consists of taking the prototype to the stakeholders and focusing on the learning that can be obtained from their feedback. I should mention that this can become an iterative process, as we need to refine the solution until we can say that we have arrived at the solution we were looking for.

To learn more about the stages I leave you this blog: 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process

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3. How to make it work?

Every Design Thinking project goes through the previous stages, however, it is also necessary to consider certain points so that the process can move forward.

  • First, it is necessary to prepare and define the materials to be used. As part of a creative design process, it is necessary to use materials (physical and/or virtual) to facilitate the visualisation and communication of ideas. We are talking about cardboards, sheets of paper, post-its, coloured pencils, cameras or, in its virtual mode due to the new trend in the world, programmes such as MURAL where many of these tools can be used digitally.
  • Next, form a working team, preferably multidisciplinary and as diverse as possible. There may be people from different backgrounds or with different academic training, which gives them different points of view that complement and strengthen the group. It is also important to have an expert to lead the project, to guide and help the process flow.
  • Then, a space should be determined in which to carry out the design process. In a face-to-face meeting, it is preferable to look for places that are conducive to creative thinking, that are spacious and have tables or blackboards to work on. Again, in a virtual scenario, the options are limited, leaving only tools such as Zoom, where blunt breakouts can be made to divide the team into subgroups and encourage the active participation of all the people involved.
  • Finally, one must be willing and embrace a designer's attitude, which implies opening one's mind to curiosity and observation. This is where it is said that Design Thinking is also a way of thinking or a mindset, where empathy is promoted to care about and engage with others and to develop a perspective that gives us clarity. This is also where collaboration, transformation of ideas, integration of feedback and trust in the process makes sense. But, above all, where it is necessary to remain positive, as good ideas do not flourish where there is not the right environment for them to flourish, and that is why a good attitude and mindset are key to successful design.

Here is a blog with a different content, in case you are wondering why this methodology works: Why Design Thinking Works.

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4.    The key to successful Design Thinking

It is useless to have an excellent design process, the necessary resources, the perfect work team, an inspiring space and a designer's mentality if the three key pillars for a solution to be truly achievable are not clear.

It is by finding the balance between the three pillars that we arrive at what is known as a sweet spot. Failure to meet one of these can lead to failure or an unachievable solution.

  • Human desirability: which consists of designing and creating something that people really want and/or need. That something must generate value for them, alleviate their pain and help them solve a problem.
  • Business viability: which is based on creating a sustainable business model, where people are willing to pay for our solution. This must generate such an impact that the business model can start, grow and survive on its own.
  • Technical feasibility: where the solution must be feasible. We should not propose a solution that we cannot achieve with the available resources, it simply does not make sense.

From all this I hope you will take away one idea, there is a reason why Design Thinking is being used more and more in the business world. It is a methodology, a process, that was developed based on empathy, sensitivity and collaboration. It is a tool that can help solve a variety of problems through its structure, generating a competitive advantage by positioning yourself with a product that is different from the rest. It does not help you to design to solve a single need, it invites you to generate real value, so that those people who are looking for a solution to a problem also find something unique and special that makes them happy. Something that leaves them with a good memory of your business.

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