What is Design Thinking? (blog) —

Posted: August 26, 2016

Have you had the experience of receiving a service (think healthcare, cell phone service) or using a product (think remote control, self check out at Grocer) that does what it is supposed to do, but you are so frustrated by the process you want to scream? This is the opposite of what a design thinker wants to create.

Design Thinking is about figuring out a way to delight a customer versus just solve a problem. What that means is that although you may be tackling a problem, instead of just diving in to fix your problem, you start by understanding your end user– what does your customer/end user really want and care about? What you learn from this discovery becomes the inspiration for your solution.  Of course you are going to make sure your business can pull it off and that it makes economic sense – but only after you are sure that your customer desires your solution.

Often, we are so in love with our own ideas, amazed by what our technology can create, or enamored by our latest and greatest vision for a new service, that the customer gets lost in the back of our minds. And out we come with the remote control no one can figure out, the service that does not really serve, the software interface that sucks or the telephone tree that leaves the caller ready to poke a fork in their eye.

Design Thinking is an innovation methodology –a set of principles, tools and a process for innovating. Learning design thinking its like learning a new craft – like cooking, welding, golf – in this case you are learning a new craft for innovating.

What’s really cool about design, among so many things, are the principles that underpin it – Customer Centricity, Empathy, Curiosity. Hard to argue with those three – the trifecta of good business practice and good living.

You could study design thinking for years to come and not get to the bottom of all the great tools and methods. There is so much richness in this space to learn, and it is fun. Design Thinking unleashes creativity in us – it calls upon us to connect deeply with others- our customers- so that we are compelled to create something that will amaze them.

We think of Design Thinking as comprised of three phases –DISCOVERY, INSIGHT and ACCELERATE.  You start by learning about your customer in creative ways (DISCOVERY) so that you can get to an insight(s) about their unmet needs and motivations (INSIGHT) which inspires you to develop a solution to test with your customers for feedback and iteration (ACCELERATE).