Design Thinking

Design thinking is gaining importance as traditional ways of approaching problems have their own set of limitations. Conventionally, we begin with the problem assessment and then seek a solution for it. Design thinking is the other way around. It begins by imagining a solution that doesn’t exist yet, and outlines a roadmap to realize it.

Also referred to as Applied Common Sense (ACS), it’s increasingly finding many applications across diverse sectors. It’s a human-centric, prototype-driven methodology used to solve complex problems, using the divergent-convergent approach.

It’s done in collaboration with the end-user or the customer at the centre of the problem-solving equation—a way of using systemic reasoning, intuition and most importantly, empathy.

When the end-user is the focus, design becomes a tool for change. It can transform the way enterprises do business, hire talent, compete, and build their brands. Businesses solving for customers’ needs first are more likely to win and retain their customers longer.

Design Thinking is Human-centered. Why?

 Design thinking is actually about the mindset behind experience design and coming up with different ways of bringing the user experience to the forefront. 

It’s critical to understand clients, customers and users, who the experiences are being designed for. Else, your design thinking initiative is likely to fail. It’s largely centered on logic, intuition, and creative thinking that produce tangible outcomes to benefit the end user.

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Design Thinking – Is It Difficult to Get It Right?

Though it might sound easy to implement, but it’s tough to get it right without a solid strategic groundwork. A good design thinking plan needs deep and collaborative user research and testing, which can help the team to come up with new creative ideas and solutions, and divergent thinking.

Collecting and analyzing (or testing) this wealth of information form the bedrock of the entire design thinking process. But, these need skills and expertise for early prototyping with real users as it saves significant amount of time and money.

Curiosity to identify and solve complex problems with a creative approach is indispensable in the design thinking approach. Experts from diverse disciplines such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), application developers, software engineering and design need to collaborate and solve their most complex business problems quickly and with high accuracy.

Questions to Ask Before Starting the Design Thinking Journey

It’s important to keep in mind the following points when you decide to embark on a design journey:

  • Follow the Design Rule of 3: Design thinking delivers much greater value when the design approach is combined with design execution and realizing the design culture. When it’s approached, businesses need to consider the desirability, viability and feasibility of their solutions. Similarly, in the design execution phase, business improvement, customer experience, and change implementation need to be prioritized. And for this, communication, a growth mindset and a strong design culture needs to be worked upon. In the realization phase, serious user testing must be undertaken.
  • Hire a Senior Design Leader: It’s of paramount significance to hire a senior design leader, give that practitioner complete autonomy, a seat in the C-suite, and the support of the CEO. A strong design leader will ensure that design factors such as customer implications are part of any business strategy.
  • Review your Metrics: The best decisions are often made in a constant test-and-learn cycle. It’d be best if you go beyond reviewing design metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to reviewing them continuously (often in real-time), testing them, and prioritize your actions.
  • Ensure Designers Work with the Right People in the Organization: Design should actively contribute to business decisions and experience development across the customer journey. Assigning designers to critical functions will ensure the above. Identify and implement your first four-wall experiment with design, engineering or IT, operations, and project management.
  • Discover What Motivates Your Customers: Create a customer journey map and use human-centered design research techniques to interact with customers and uncover pain points and the opportunities to delight them.
  • Accelerate Your Processes with Challenging Timelines. Chasing absolute perfection in this case maybe counter-intuitive if the speed of delivery isn’t greater than the speed of relevance. It’s impossible to satisfy all the target demographics at once, so a user experience that delights most of the target audience and is delivered when needed the most is likely to make the impact.

The Way Forward

Since design thinking is critical to redefining the user experience, businesses need to increasingly invest in resources, time and efforts to focus on user goals from multiple viewpoints – emotional, psychological, and behavioral.

Businesses must integrate design thinking into the user experience all along, not as an afterthought at the time of product or services launch. It’s a sustainable and repeatable process that deserves its rightful place in the innovation process for improving customer experiences.

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