Implement Design Thinking into your work. A step-by-step guide.
The term Design Thinking is a set of methods that allow for creative problem-solving during design work. See how easy is to implement Design Thinking in your team.
What is Design Thinking?
The Design Thinking method was described in 1987 by Peter G. Rowe in the book “Design Thinking”, although the first definitions of this model date back to the 1960s in the United States.
Design thinking allows you to solve problems creatively and is a universal tool that can be used in many areas: in products, services, and processes. This method is used by both large corporations and start-ups.
Design Thinking is focused on the needs of users and derives from the Human-Centered Design trend. This approach allows you to get into the shoes of your target group and work in-depth on the usability of the product or service.
There are 5 stages in the Design Thinking process:
2. Define the problem
Design Thinking, Step 1: Empathize
The first step in the Design Thinking process is empathy. This step allows you to understand the needs and problems of the target group. An important aspect is an in-depth analysis of the goals and motivations of our recipients.
At this stage, you can conduct surveys or interviews with your target group. It is worth finding out what problems, e.g. they encounter when using our application. Ask your target group, find out about their opinion and needs. Step into your user’s shoes and refine the product to meet their expectations.
Use Empathy Map and answer the following questions:
- What does the user/customer need?
- What experiences does the user/customer have?
- What does the user/customer think about the current or proposed solutions?
- What emotions does the user/customer feel towards the product?
You can also use other solutions such as statistics, analyzes, or research to understand what their preferences and behaviors are.
Design Thinking, Step 2: Define the problem
Defining the problem consists in understanding the user’s needs and analyzing the collected information from the first step. Information can be obtained from surveys, studies, statistics, and reports. Then you need to find a certain pattern of behavior among your target group.
The second step of Design Thinking often helps us redefine the problem. Thanks to the analysis of the user’s needs and behavior, we can conclude that we need to look at our problem from a new perspective, which may indicate a modification of the problem and purpose itself. Therefore, it is important to correctly define the problem to be able to move to the third step, which is looking for solutions.
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Design Thinking, Step 3: Ideate
It is very important to go through the Empathize and Define the Problem steps first before moving on to the third step. The lack of an analysis of the user’s needs and the lack of definition of the actual problem makes it very difficult to reach satisfactory solutions. At this stage, some teams use the Scamper Method or Charrette Procedure.
Scamper Method in Design Thinking
The Scamper method is an alternative version of the well-known brainstorming process that facilitates the creative process. It is based on the transformation of already existing ideas, without the need to come up with a completely new solution. With minor modifications, many design innovations can be made. The scamper method can be used in seven ways:
S – substitute
C – combine
A – adapt
M – modify
P – put to another use
E – eliminate
R – reverse
Charrette Procedure in Design Thinking
Charrette Procedure helps to brainstorm in a large team. When too many people are willing to take part in a brainstorming session, it often becomes chaotic. This method involves dividing people into smaller groups and allowing them to discuss and draw conclusions.
Each group has its moderator and after e.g. 15 minutes the moderators will change the group. Together with the moderator, the topic of the group changes, so the moderator, going to the next subgroups, brings more and more conclusions drawn in the previous groups.
Design Thinking, Step 4: Prototype
After going through steps 1 to 3, it’s time to prototype. This step consists in selecting those solutions and ideas that we would like to redirect to the next step, which is testing.
After selecting specific ideas, we start prototyping, i.e. we create a preliminary version of the solution and assess whether we are going in the right direction or whether the prototype meets our expectations.
Design Thinking, Step 5: Test
Testing is the last step of the Design Thinking method and is based on testing the solution or idea. From this stage, you can easily return to the prototyping step, especially when you conclude during testing that the product in this form will not fulfill its task.
At this stage, it is worth asking our user, a potential customer, for their opinion. The involvement of the target group in the testing stage will allow you to look at the product through the eyes of the consumer and gain valuable insight into what we have created.
What are the benefits of incorporating Design Thinking?
Design Thinking focuses on the user
The user is at the center of design thinking. Understanding users’ needs allow us to get to the bottom of the problem and ultimately create a better product/project tailored to the needs of the target group. You can analyze the user’s needs and problems through interviews and surveys, and by observing the behavior during the analysis of reports and statistics.
Design Thinking sets the course of your project
Design Thinking helps us to clearly define the direction of our project. Thanks to an in-depth analysis of the user’s needs and definition of the problem, we can look for more accurate solutions.
Design Thinking revises ideas
Design Thinking allows us to check our ideas at the stage of prototyping and testing. Thanks to these steps, we can observe how the target group reacts to our product or project, what are the strengths and weaknesses of our solution.
Design Thinking is a constant development of business and team
Design Thinking, through its steps, teaches you to get to know the needs of the target group, ask accurate questions and look for unconventional solutions. Using Design Thinking, you encourage a team to solve problems creatively and develop along with the product.
Design Thinking and Agile methodology
Teams that use Agile methodology in their project management can effortlessly implement Design Thinking into their work on projects or products. Design Thinking allows for an in-depth analysis of customer needs, defining the problem, and looking for appropriate solutions. This type of thinking fits well with teamwork in Scrum teams, because being flexible and creative often allows for better results.
Both Agile and Design Thinking emphasize the workshop nature of creative problem-solving. The combination of these methods reduces the risk of poorly defined design and purpose. Prototyping and testing steps allow for quick validation of a given idea.