Understanding Design Thinking
Design thinking is an iterative process that is non-linear in nature and used when one wants to solve an unknown or ill-defined problem. The aim of the process is to gain a deep understanding of the brand’s users, redefine problems, challenge any assumptions and come up with innovative solutions, which would be used in pilot-scale for testing.
A number of human tendencies act as an obstruction to innovation and to eliminate this, the design thinking process offers clarity that helps the team as well as an organization to over such hindrances.
Design thinking has 5 phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.
Explaining The 5 Phases
A thing to remember when it comes to design thinking is that these stages are non-linear. They don’t have to be implemented one after another; they can also be used in parallel to each other, in a different order and repeatedly in an iterative manner. Each of these 5 phases can be considered as different ways that add to the entire project rather than as sequential steps.
Phase 1: Empathize With Your Users & Their Needs
This stage in the design thinking process is when you can gain an empathetic understanding of any problem via research on the users. Empathy is an important element in creating and establishing a people-centric solution. With empathy, you can differentiate your own understanding and assumptions with that of the others (your clients), and this helps in gaining appropriate insight into your clients and their requirements.
Phase 2: Define Your Users’ Problems & Needs
The insights that were gathered in the ‘empathize’ stage are used in this stage. This accumulated information can be analyzed in order to define the core problems of your customers. A thing to remember at this point is that the problems need to be stated from a humane perspective rather than a highly technical view.
Phase 3: Ideate – Think Outside The Box
In this stage of design thinking, with the available information and the well-defined problems from the previous stages, you can begin ideating for solutions. You can begin to explore alternative pathways to reach a unique solution. This can be done by looking at the problems from different angles.
Phase 4: Prototype – Begin To Test Different Solutions
In this phase, you can experiment with the various solutions you might have ideated during the previous stage. To begin with, you can design a scaled-down pilot version of the solutions – something that is inexpensive and easy to remodel, replicate and scale-up.
Phase 5: Test Out The Solutions
In this phase, evaluators can test out the prototypes built to investigate the effectiveness. This way, you will be able to arrive at an optimal solution. This phase, although seems like a final one, you should always be open to identifying additional problems and redefining them and therefore delve into iterations to bring out refined solutions.
The Challenges That Can Be Eliminated
An innovation process should be able to deliver excellent solutions, low risks and employee buy-in. During this process, organizations might come across obstacles that have to be dissolved in order to clear the path for the innovation process.
- Whilst developing solutions, an original idea would surface only when unconventional paths are chosen. One of the major problems encountered would be that your team could get stuck in exploring the problems rather than thinking about solutions from different perspectives. With a structured approach via design thinking process, this problem can easily be overcome but focusing on each of the 5 phases separately.
- When it comes to establishing solutions, the uncertainty involved in each solution is unavoidable. Too many options might dilute the focus and increase costs. In order to avoid this situation, it is essential to filter out bad ideas and choose the optimal few. The design thinking process is an iterative one that helps you identify an ideal solution in a pilot phase, which can, later on, be scaled-up.
- The main component of innovation is the employees’ support. Getting them involved is sure to gain their support, but the main obstacle with this is that too many observations and perspectives might create incoherence. Leveraging variation in the organization for the purpose of innovation will help overcome any human behavioural obstacles and for this, the design thinking process is the best fit, considering the 5 phases involved.
The design thinking process is such that it has the ability to overcome any obstacles from the research and development phase to the product/solution rollout phase. This process helps eliminate any human biases while gaining deep insights into customer requirements. This is critical to developing a supreme solution. The flow importantly helps shape the thought process of the innovators, giving them new experiences.
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