How do we undertake the process of tackling problems – especially those that are ill-defined or unknown? This is one of the biggest challenges that businesses who are trying to innovate at a fast pace face. This is where design thinking comes in.
When you’re truly innovating, you’re working without any concrete boundaries or prototypes to work from. So how do we creatively take on challenges and problems when the landscape is so unknown? The answer lies in ‘design thinking’.
Design thinking is a method used to understand how users behave. It is a non-linear, iterative process that is conducive to challenging assumptions, redefining problems and creating innovative solutions to prototype and test.
There are five phases of design thinking, first proposed at the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.
The first stage of the human-centric process involves developing an Empathic understanding of the problem – possibly by consulting experts in the specific area of concern and by observation and engagement with people. This, as well as an immersion in the physical milieu will engender a more profound comprehension of the issues you need to tackle.
The next step is the Define stage; where the information gathered during the Empathise stage is amalgamated, analysed and synthesised in order to define the central issues. It is well-advised to state the problem in a human-centred fashion.
This is where you will analyse your observations and synthesise them in order 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-centred manner, bearing in mind the point of view of the user.
During the third stage – Ideate – ideas are generated. After empathising with user needs, and defining problems, the design team can start to “think outside the box”. There are always multiple ways of viewing a problem – as well as multiple ideation techniques to stimulate free thinking.
An idea will lead to a Prototype, the fourth step. This is an experimental phase, aiming to identify the most viable solution for the problems highlighted over the previous phases. Ideally, by the end, the design team will be more enlightened on the constraints surrounding the product.
Designers are now ready to Test the product. This final stage is an iterative process and the results of the testing should be used to redefine the features of the product moving forward.
The rate of successful innovation drastically improves when principles of design are used in strategic planning. As such, design thinking is changing the way that value is generated amongst leading companies.
The innovative spotlight is moving away from engineering towards the world of design – from product-centric to customer-centric. Design thinking is the new foundation of effective strategy development and is certainly a skill for the future.
Many large consulting firms like Accenture or PwC have acquired design consultancies which is firm evidence of the ever-increasing influence of seamless design in the business world.
ENO8 is geared towards design thinking and has been helping businesses develop innovative, impactful digital products, increasing the impact of bringing new digital products to life.
We can help you structure a design thinking process and map out your progress from start to finish. We’re your trusted partner in design and innovation, and we’d love to discuss your latest plans!