"Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success."
TIM BROWN, IDEO
What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is more than just a methodology or process. It's a creative approach to problem-solving in human-centered ways.
At Ping, we are using Design Thinking to help us "think like a customer". What does that mean? It means taking deliberate steps to first understand the needs of your customers (the people consuming whatever you create) before taking the first step toward creating a solution. This process helps us find innovative solutions that are desirable to customers.
Think you don't have customers? Think again!
The people who consume whatever you produce are your customers. Whether you create spreadsheets, products, presentations, marketing materials or whatever, your customers’ needs should come first.
What does Design Thinking involve?
There are six main steps to help you integrate design thinking and creative problem-solving in your everyday work and guide you to an innovative solution. These steps will help you empathize with customers and users, define the problem, ideate solutions, and test out your ideas.
You don't have to walk through the full six-step process every time, you can try out pieces of the methodology or apply the underlying mindsets.
Craft user-focused " How might we..." questions to frame your challenge, then select your favorite challenge(s) to address first.
Remember to keep user desirability at the core of your "How Might We..." questions. Frame your questions to be broad enough to allow you to discover areas of unexpected value, but also narrow enough to make the topic managable and ensure you solve a real problem.
Empathize: Who feels this problem? What are their wants/needs?
Think about the user/customer, and focus on empathizing with their possible pain points, wants and needs. Identify and interview extreme users for inspiration, and be sure to record your fact-bsed observations.
- Focus your observations on facts, not bias or assumptions
- Consider analagous situations for inspiration. What can you learn from a different situation or perspective?
- Keep asking "why?" even if you think you know the answer.
Synthesize for action
Define: What insights help explain the customer's perspective?
Share your user observations, select the most surprising or interesting and create insights from your observations.
TOP SIGHT CRITERIA
Authentic: Supported by your fact-based observations.
Non-obvious: Something motivating your customer that isn't what you expected.
Revealing: Offers a glimpse into how people think and feel.
Ideate: How might we creatively address the challenges?
Turn your top insights into user-focused questions and then brainstorm solutions.
- Go for quantity!
- Defer judgement. There are no bad ideas.
- Encourage wild or out-of-the-box-ideas, they can lead to innovation!
- Build on the ideas of others with "Yes, and..." thinking.
- Stay focused on the topic.
- Keep it to one conversation at a time — allow ideas to be heard and built upon.
- If you're stuck, try some brainstorming stimuli or drawing it out.
Make ideas tangible
Prototype: How can we build to think?
Create prototypes from your top ideas using storyboards, role-playing, or journey maps. Gather feedback to further refine and test your prototypes.
When creating storyboards, show the process from the problem all the way to the solution. Keep it simple with 4 to 6 frames and show a user in each frame.
Test to learn
Test: How do people interact with your solution?
Design an experiment to test your solution (or an aspect of your solution) and see how you might evolve your ideas based on the results.
Interactive: Test what people do, not what they say they do. Surveys can be misleading. Focus on how people interact with the solution.
Low Risk: Keep the financial risk low (less than $100)
Quick: Can be done in one hour or less
Generative: Produces valuable feedback to learn from that can lead to better solution.
How do I apply Design Thinking?
Consider where Design Thinking can be most valuable to you in your day-to-day work and there are plenty of resources available to help you.
A few possible applications are:
Maintain a customer-focus
Maybe you start every meeting by asking the question, "Who are your customers and how are you serving them?"
Frame the question when a new challenge arises
Consider a project you're working on. What is your user-focused "How Might We..." for that challenge?
Understand the problem
Take a second to ask, "How many customers/users have you talked to?" Remember to set aside any bias you may have when empathizing with the user.
Before moving forward with an idea, consider how many solutions were brainstormed. Is this the first idea you had? Can you take 5-10 minutes to brainstorm more?
Build to think
When a new idea is presented, how can you quickly prototype it? Can you storyboard or role play the solution?
Test it out
Before investing significant time and money into an idea, consider how you can test to learn. Is there a quick way to experiment a key assumption or critical piece of the solution? What can you quickly and cheaply do to learn something and develop the idea more?
Ready to sign up for one of our Design Thinking training workshops?