Design thinking definition describes it as a methodology of finding a solution to a specific problem that is linked to the design of your future product. This process is closely linked to innovation and allows to solve complex problems by putting customers first. The ideas are generated with the help of brainstorming sessions. And by introducing the prototyping and testing to the decision-making process. The most successful companies actively use design thinking for idea-generating and business transformation. So let’s take a closer look at the whole process and explore how to apply it in your company.
In the ever-changing modern world, it’s always important for a business to react to changes and adapt itself quickly. There are a lot of challenges and issues that should be solved rapidly and efficiently, but with the customer in mind. Design thinking is becoming so popular with its human-centric approach because it has proved to be essential for many companies’ success, and here are reasons why.
Nowadays, innovation is highly valued in business and provides considerable support to the competitive strategy. Design thinking as innovation practice became widely adopted, by bringing designer principles and methods to efficient problem-solving. Moreover, it stimulates brainstorming for improved strategic foresight and can help to overcome the following challenges related to introducing innovations:
The digital age has brought the necessity for businesses to adapt to the new technologies and therefore, to carry out digital transformation. This is when design thinking proves to be extremely useful. It helps to reimagine your company’s structure and how you operate its system in general by introducing innovations and fostering a digital mindset. By conducting detailed user research and using those findings as an asset for problem-solving and by applying them to the design of products, websites, platforms, and services your company can reach the desired level of digital maturity.
A successful customer discovery fosters business growth and helps companies to uphold the competition. Introducing design thinking to business development strategies can create an environment where all the stakeholders understand customer’s needs, behavior, and motivations for more efficient problem-solving. Keeping empathy towards customers as a central part of your business strategy can help you to create a bond between them, your company, and your employees. Moreover, promoting the design-thinking process helps employees to collaborate quickly and efficiently.
The Stanford D-School model of design thinking is widely recognized and includes the following stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test. Let’s explore each of the steps by applying the example of Pixetic’s work for Lviv Puppet Theatre.
This is a stage of observing users, understanding their needs, both explicit and implicit, to gain a better understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve and to make decisions based not on the assumptions but on the insights of customers’ needs.
This was where Pixetic started when creating a design for the Lviv Puppet Theater website. First, we did research on the site’s aesthetics and the language it should speak to its users to get to know its target audience. We tried to get a general understanding of what visitors need and what they expect from the website.
At this stage, the insights and observations obtained during the previous step are analyzed and used for defining the core problem your team needs to solve. With the knowledge that Pixetic gained during the user research, we established the main pain points of the website’s visitors: searching for a certain play, buying tickets, and general interaction with the theatre; and defined one of the main problems – the absence of graphic style and brand identity of the Theater.
Now it’s time to generate ideas on how to solve the defined problem by thinking of an alternative, creative ways to take a look at the problem and to come up with an innovative solution. During the design thinking workshops and brainstorming sessions, we elaborated on customer journey maps and the list of prioritized user stories. We realized that using the user experience of movie theatres as a reference for designing ticket buying flow would make more sense.
This is where a team narrows their results from the previous ideation stage towards an early solution of a defined problem and tries to create a low-budget trial version of the product to see how an idea might work out and to introduce improvements and changes. At this stage, we worked on mapping out how users navigate the website to define information architecture and user flows. We shifted the main focus to the home page with the current repertoire and information about upcoming events. All the elements have a “built-in” and designed call to action and are interconnected.
The final stage is all about discovering what works in your idea and what doesn’t, then changing and improving your basic prototype until it’s ready for production. At this stage, Pixetic polished the website for it to offer a smooth experience and easy access to all the necessary information and redesigned the covers of all current plays, so they corresponded to the updated general design. Also, at this stage, we conducted user testing to understand how the website can be improved and to grant the best functionality.
While introducing design thinking to your idea-generating is going to get you closer to innovative decisions, you also need to remember that the success and efficiency of the whole process rely on the following factors:
We mentioned before that the well-known companies apply design thinking into their companies’ strategy and use it to foster innovation and re-think their business model. So, let’s take a look at the most successful implementations of design thinking.
UberEATS is implementing a design thinking mindset to find ways to improve food delivery for people. They decided to introduce empathy to their strategy. As the company operates in numerous cities around the world, they constantly put themselves in the places where their customers live, work, and eat to learn how markets they operate on differ from each other and to understand how their products fit in their physical conditions. Also, the teams responsible for this, explore the city’s food culture.
Another important part of UberEATS strategy is innovation. The good old food delivery principle remains stable but its implementation evolves constantly. For example, they introduced the “Under 30 Minutes” menu for people who want to speed up the delivery of food.
From a failing startup with 200$ revenue per week in 2009 to the billion-dollar company it is today – Airbnb has got this far thanks to design thinking. It started off with solving one of the issues due to which the business was failing – low-quality photos of the customers listing properties. So, they decided to go to New York and take high-quality pictures of each of them. And surprisingly it helped. After that, the company decided they needed to implement design thinking in their business strategy.
Individual team members now are encouraged to propose new features and take measured but productive risks to explore new directions for the company’s growth. The new employees are welcomed to propose new features as part of their onboarding process on their first day to bring some fresh and sometimes innovative ideas.
According to Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s CEO, design thinking is what’s driving innovation within the company. In 2012, she introduced the first chief design officer to the company and decided that design had to become a crucial element for its growth. She decided to bring a designer to create better user experiences and help foster innovation within the company because, at that point, her employees didn’t even fully understand what “design” meant, let alone “design thinking”. After seeing the striking results of that decision, the company determined it should become an essential element of their strategy.
To sum up, incorporating design thinking into your business strategy is not only about making your product look better but more about taking a creative look at the problem and finding a solution no one has considered before. The main aim is to abandon fear and take the risk on the way to innovation because the well-known route will lead you to the most obvious solution which can never be a road to success.
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