Design Thinking – The holy grail of innovation

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a philosophy that anchors human-centred approach to innovation. In simple terms, it helps organisations identify simple solutions to complex problems and become a customer-centric company. 

Who’s it for?

Design Thinking is not just for designers, it has evolved and can be applied to various fields such as manufacturing, architecture and software. 

It is for an indie developer who wants to make the world a better place, or a startup looking to solve customers problems with innovative solutions, or a big corporate needing the ability to create new values to existing consumer’s ever changing needs. 

Why is it important?

Organisations that invests only on processes and analytical thinking but disregards creativity would eventually make their products obsolete. For a company to succeed, it needs to create products that solves complex customers problem. To solve, it should have the capacity to think out of the box. To think out the box, it needs creativity. To be creative, it needs a culture of design thinking inside organization. 

Apple, Airbnb, Tesla and many others companies create game changing products and services by applying design thinking.

Well, now that we know whatwho and why design thinking is useful, let’s talk about the how part of it.

How?

Creative process are often ambiguous and divergent in-terms of exploration of ideas. Business needs predictability without affecting creativity and hence design thinking comes with the set of principles and processes to focus on.

It insists on creating products that are desirable for the users, feasible with technology and economically viable for the business. The intersection of these three aspects becomes a sweet spot for innovation.

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  1. Desirable – What’s the users problem and need ?
  2. Feasible – Is it possible to solve with technology ?
  3. Viable – Can the solution be sustainable aka Can we make money ?

Design Thinking Process:

The five stage process of design thinking is introduced by Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. 

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Empathise: 

In this phase, you’ll need to understand the user’s problem from their shoes. It focuses on,

  1. Who’s your target audience ?
  2. What’s their problem ?
  3. What they need ?

To gather insights, one needs to understand how the user think, feel and act.

Define:

The insights collected from the empathise phase would be used here to define the problem statement. Focus on user’s need over business goals. The problem statement defined here will be used through out the other phases.

Ideate: 

This is the phase where you gather ideas for the problem statement defined in the previous phase. Innovation is rarely born in isolation, so form a team of key individuals from various teams. There is no good or bad ideas, so focus on quantity over quality.

Prototype:

Get ready with your tools to create a quick prototype of your unique idea that came up with the ideation phase. This has to be rapid because, it can be quickly tested with the actual users and iterated again based on the learnings. 

Test:

In this phase, you’ll present your prototype to the real users. Functional and other major flaws can be identified with the help of users. This helps in iterating over the improvement of the product.

These are the quick overview of design thinking. I will save the detailed discussion of each phases for another day. Thank you for reading!

One should inspire from nature, unhook from present, imagine and create things that transforms human lives like never before.

Balamuthu Lakshmanasamy

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