The New Design Thinking Approach

Design Thinking is a human-centred design approach that starts with understanding the needs of the stakeholders (desirability) and brings the viability and feasibility aspects together (Figure 1.1).
The key tenets of the New Design Thinking are presented bellow.

New Design Thinking
Figure 1.1 Design thinking. (Adapted from Brown, Tim. Change By Design. Palo Alto,
CA: HarperBusiness, 2009.)

1. Empathy

At the heart of Design Thinking is an empathetic understanding of the user/stakeholder. It is characterized by trying to have intent observations with a childlike curiosity, not just paying attention to what the stakeholder says but paying attention to actions and actively listening to what wasn’t expressed. Doing this allows you to have insights into the thoughts and feelings of users. It is easier said than done, though (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2 Empathy

2. Have a Better Understanding of the Problem before Thinking of the Solution

Contrary to the traditional approach where the proposition starts with a solution in mind, Design Thinking is based on exploring the problem first, before even thinking about a solution. Every business starts with a hunch. The founder has an idea for the business which is generally a solution looking for a problem. Design Thinking helps explore the problem space by employing a wider lens first as the team looks from the perspective of the
user, who is the main stakeholder that will benefit from the idea. To have a common understanding of the problem faced by the key user, it is important to look at the problem from different perspectives and wider lenses. This helps frame the problem from the user’s context before narrowing focus on the key problem for the user. This helps in answering the “Why” of the initiative before thinking about “How” and “What” (Figure 1.3).

Explore the user’s problem with the wider lens before narrowing the focus tohave a clear understanding of the problem to solve.
Figure 1.3 Explore the user’s problem with a wider lens before narrowing the focus to
have a clear understanding of the problem to solve.

Once the team has a clear idea of the problem, a wider lens is again used to form ideas about the various ways the problem could be solved. These ideas must take the team toward a solution which would be applicable in the user’s context. As the prototypes are developed and tested with the user, the idea is further refined toward meeting the needs of the user. Through many iterations, the team not only moves closer to the solution but also has an even better understanding of the user’s needs. Through this journey, the solution, which will be the “minimum viable product,” will be developed and given to the user, who can then determine if the solution meets the user’s needs. During this stage, the viability from the business perspective will also be taken into consideration, which will include, among other factors, the mechanism of capturing the value (pricing, channels, relationships,etc.) (Figure 1.4).

Explore solutions using wider lens before narrowing focus on specificsolution ideas.
Figure 1.4 Explore solutions using wider lens before narrowing focus on specific
solution ideas.

3. Collaboration with Diverse Perspectives

Design Thinking is based on the power of diverse perspectives. Getting such input means bringing key stakeholders from different lines of businesses, expertise, experience levels and backgrounds together in one room and facilitating an environment where judgments are deferred and as many ideas as possible are considered. This again highlights the importance of diversity of ideas for ideation before using convergent thinking to select the best ideas for possible solutions.
In addition, the diverse stakeholders are also brought to the same page in terms of understanding of the key stakeholders relevant for the business and the user’s needs.

4. Build Prototype

Another key aspect of Design Thinking is its bias toward action. Instead of talking about the concept of death, building a prototype is required. A prototype could be as simple as a sketch on a piece of paper or as complex as a mock-up using design tools on a computer. The whole idea is that as your prototype, you see how the solution might actually be used in real life. It also reduces the need to invest tremendous resources to get user feedback.

5. Get Feedback from Target User

The beauty of this approach is its involvement of the user/key stakeholder throughout the design cycle. In this process, you do not just obtain feedback from the users on the prototype but you also involve them in coming up with ideas and doing the prototyping. In this process, you show (not tell) what a solution might look like for the users and get their feedback with an open mind. At this point, you also obtain feedback from the business and technology/operational side to ensure the idea is both viable and feasible.

6. Iterate

And finally, be ready to fail and try again. The advantage of this approach is that you’ll know fairly soon whether your process for finding a solution is moving in the right direction, unlike the traditional approach, where the user is the last person to have a glimpse at the solution. Fail early, fail fast.

In conclusion, done correctly the new approach to Design Thinking can prove very effective. Therefore, you need to check how Get the Best out of This Approach post.