Why Design Thinking is more important now than ever?

Not so long ago, the concept of Design Thinking was attributed to those companies that were most focus on innovation. The situation has changed due to COVID-19. The pandemic impacted the way society operates and also the way companies do business. Companies were forced to rethink the products, services and experiences that they were providing to customers so far. Why forced? Because in today’ world companies are either in an innovative or die situation.

Almost 20% respondents asked why they thought design thinking is more important now than never answered pointing COVID-19 as the reason1. Design Thinking offers the ability to build new and sustainable realities out of uncertainty, recognize new opportunities and empathize with business customer base. It enables the ability to innovate effectively, be agile and adapt to the fast-changing environment. So how to start with the Design Thinking concept in your company? There are 5 stages to go through:

  1. Empathize – the goal is to gain an empathetic understanding of the problem, it is typically carried out through user research. Tools worth considering are empathy map, focus groups, surveys.
  2. Define – the goal is to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point. You should seek to define the problem as a problem statement in a human-centered manner.
  3. Ideate - the goal is to generate the idea by “thinking outside the box”, look for alternative ways to view the problem and identify innovative solutions to the problem. Brainstorming or Worst Possible Idea might be useful at this stage.
  4. Prototype – the goal is to identify the best possible solution for each problem found. It is an experimental phase then creating a mockup may help to visualize the solution. Depending on your needs you can consider Lowest, medium (lo-fi) or highest fidelity (hi-fi) mockups.
  5. Test – the goal is to test created solution before it hits customer’s hands. By testing the performance of individual functionalities, you can significantly reduce the risk that your product proves to be a failure. Although this is the final phase, design thinking is iterative: Teams often use the results to redefine one or more further problems.

Despite we presented sequential stages’ flow, it doesn’t mean the process cannot be carried out in a more flexible and non-linear fashion. For example, the results from the last testing phase may expose some insights about potential users, which in turn may lead to another brainstorming session (Ideate) or the development of new prototypes (Prototype). Every project will involve activities specific to the product under development, but the central idea behind each stage remains the same.

It is clear that employing a human-centered approach across the organization provides companies with a crucial competitive advantage in today’s largely uncertain environment. However, many companies still have a long way to go when it comes to implementing this culture of empathy, innovation, collaboration and customer-centricity across all parts of the business. How about your company?

Author: Magda Wojtasik

Source: Design & Innovation Global September 2020 Market Study, Designing for tomorrow, today