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Design Thinking

Creative Problem Solving

What is Design Thinking

Let me use a few quotes: 

"Design Thinking is not Design. It’s validating business ideas that are viable, feasible and desirable. Design Thinking is not Thinking. It’s exploring, making, testing to understand what isn’t working" -  Sunil Malhotra- CEO & Founder - Ideafarms      


“Design thinking can be described 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 convert into customer value and market opportunity.”- Tim Brown, CEO & President IDEO - the foremost design school 

When to use Design Thinking
  • Our method looks as design thinking as an addition to existing PI methods such as Lean, Six Sigma, NPD, Value Engineering, so yes you can use it along with other methods, in your projects - it will improve the results

  • To empathize and reframe the problem from a customer’s perspective

  • To stop the urge to go immediately into solution mode – Design Thinking provides a way for you to pause, wear the customer’s shoes, his/her eyes, and their heart – to understand the problem and then move back into a mode for you to confirm business viability and technical feasibility

  • To re/design your process/product

Elements of Design Thinking
The Magic Lenses 

3 lenses of Customer Desirability, Business Viability, and Technical Feasibility

Design thinking is described often as "human-centered design", centered yes it is, but around it, are other factors and sometimes it starts sounding like - if you empathize, that's it,  you are doing design thinking. 

The picture below is self-explanatory, that it's not just desirability of the user but also the feasibility and viability 

design thinking lenses
  • Beginner's mindset - be childlike, be curious, think free, experiment, imagine

  • Radical Collaboration - make it a team sport, it's not about - has everyone voted, it's about .... is everyone together ? have fun 

  • Show, don't tell - get visual, tell stories, make it, draw it

In addition to mindsets, habits also play a big role. You need to be able to leverage all elements, the lenses, mindsets, and steps to be able to do justice to design thinking aim

Design Thinking Step
Design Thinking Steps

Similar to many other methods – the steps are iterative.

One of the brilliant changes that design thinking brings to fore – is what I like to call …the “pause”, this is the orange traffic light …our usual habit is – see a red light (problem) …jump to finding solutions for it (Greenlight)

So, what’s that orange light for, let's discover as we go thru the steps

Step 0: Understand

At a high level understand - the landscape, stakeholders, evaluate opportunities available and prioritise to find one problem you will solve with design thinking

Tools: Stakeholder landscape, Experience evaluation map, the elevator pitch

Step 1: Empathize

Observing, engaging and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment so you can gain a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved. Empathy allows design thinkers to set aside their own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into users and their needs.

Tools: Empathy Map, Customer journey map, Interviews, personas, Synthesis map

Step 2: Reframe

In this phase, put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathize stage. Synthesize your observations in order to define the core problems and map them with your business' strengths or area of work. You should seek to reframe the problem as a statement from the customer's point of view, in the context of your business.

Tool:  Point of view statement

Step 3: Ideate

Ideation is a creative process where design thinkers generate ideas in sessions (e.g. brainstorming, worst possible idea). Participants gather with open minds to produce as many ideas as they can to address a problem statement in a facilitated, judgment-free environment. Once you have the critical mass of ideas – you prioritize

Tools: Analogies, how might we, worst possible idea, brain storming, voting

Step 4: Prototype

Another step which is different than other methods. The main goal of prototyping is to make an idea just tangible enough to elicit a response, whether from you, your team, a partner, or whomever you’re designing for. It is important to note that in design thinking, the prototype is created to test something - an idea, a hypothesis, and is not the solution itself. This is not making a pretty PowerPoint slide …but use regular stuff, card boards, markers, tapes…stuff generally around you, to make the idea tangible

You make like to watch this video

Tools: Rapid prototyping, role plays

Step 5: Test

Test your prototype here – to improve our understanding of the user, conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathize. Alterations and refinements are made to the prototype, drop some solutions.

Tools: Feedback capture grid, I Like, I Wish, What If

Did you manage to figure out - where and what the "orange" traffic light is for? 

I look at steps of empathizing and reframing as the orange light steps - to pause, empathize with the customer, reframing the problem from the customer's perspective and then moving on to solution space 

Interested in using our design thinking framework to solve business problems, challenges, generate disruptive ideas. Check out our Design thinking Sprint

Note: This section is brought in association with Ideafarms.   

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