Design Thinking Methodology: An Essential Key to Success

Design Thinking Methodology: An Essential Key to Success

Check it out what you will find on this article about the benefits of design thinking methodology:

 

At the heart of every organization that wants to succeed is the desire to meet the customers’ needs and wants. A desire to have the right methodology and initiatives to deliver services and / or products efficiently. To this end, one of the most effective ways to go about this is by employing design thinking methodology. This thought-piece is designed to provide a more in-depth look at the methodology, and leave you with sufficient information to decide if such a method (or any of its elements) can work towards making your organization develop, evolve, and become more successful.

Understanding design thinking methodology

The need for and the emergence of design thinking methodology has been brought about by the fast-paced changes and evolution in the market and of customers — regardless of industry. Customers today are more discerning, more informed, more in-tune with what they want (and don’t want). Gone are the days when brands were the dominant voices and movers in the market.

Today, customers make the biggest shots and have the loudest voices. The world, markets, and customers today are much more interconnected — there are so many paths through which all these forces and groups interact with each other. So much so that there is now a premium on the quality of an organization’s digital customer experience.

 

Design thinking methodology is designed to allow organizations to better adapt to these constant rapid changes caused by the increasing complexity of how everything connects and communicates. Management school MIT Sloan says it best: “Coming up with an idea is easy. Coming up with the right one takes work. With design thinking, throwing out what you think you know and starting from scratch opens up all kinds of possibilities.”

How to Know if The Company Needs a Design Thinking Methodology

Make no mistake, there is a need for design thinking methodology. It is a tried and tested method that has contributed to the success of companies such as Google, Apple, and AirBnB. According to the 2015 Design Value Index created by the Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies, companies like Pepsi, IBM, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and SAP have been outperforing the S&P 500 a whooping 211% over a 10-year period using design thinking methodology. So not only is there a need for the method — it has proven, over a significant amount of time, that it works and has been one of the key for business innovation in these companies that have, and continue to, enjoy massive success in their respective industries and markets.

But before we go any further, let’s get to definitions first. Wikipedia defines design thinking as, “the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed by designers and/or design teams.” The whole concept of design thinking methodology relies on the different factors that catch users’ and customers’ attentions. It is usually visual, but it isn’t really limited to that, especially when it comes to customer experiences, systems, initiatives, protocols, and processes. It’s all about combining the human element with the practicality of economic / financial and technological feasibility.

The most obvious example to demonstrate the effectivity of design thinking methodology would be Apple. The brand has a very, very distinct image and visual style that transcends products and industries — you’ll find only a handful of people around the world who would be unfamiliar with Apple’s design. But it’s not only visual design, its also apparent in the integration and interface between the brand’s products and services, as well as the language they use. “Apple Genius” was indeed a genius idea, and works into the whole bubble the brand is trying to create around its products and services.

 

This is just a testament to the value companies are now able to create based and due to design thinking methodology. While before engineering was the basis for innovation, design thinking is at the forefront of the way brands evolve. While engineering is still an integral part of how organizations evolve, the inspiration for that evolution — as well as the direction it will take — now lies in the hands of design-oriented thinkers and decision-makers.

Design Thinking and Strategic Management

Design thinking methodology — again think of Apple to make things easier to imagine — has shifted the focus of companies’ strategic management initiatives towards putting importance on user experience and customer satisfaction. In a way, Steve Jobs’ design-oriented approach to innovation has also spurred many other CEOs and organizational leaders to at least consider the efficacy of that kinds of mindset and strategy in their own companies.

Especially in today’s customer-driven consumer culture, design thinking methodology involves having a desire to understand people — particularly current and potential customers who will end up using the products and services you offer. Its about establishing a more profound connection with the customer and empathizing not only with the way they use these products and services but also the way they interact and engage with the brand as a whole. It helps teams and decision-makers ask the right questions — questions that spur modernization and improvement and reject stagnation.

 

Especially when it comes to tackling tricky and complicated issues, design thinking methodology often provides a different — and very useful — perspective and insight into things. An integral part of design thinking methodology involves a more hands-on approach, as well as things like prototyping, experimentation and testing, trial and error of ideas and concepts, as well as things like sketching.

5 Stages of Design Thinking Methodology

This now leads us to the typical five stages of design thinking methodology:

  1. 1. Empathize
  2. 2. Define
  3. 3. Ideate
  4. 4. Prototype
  5. 5. Test
 

1. Empathize

This stage is all about understanding users’ and / or customers’ needs. As the name implies, this entails putting yourself wholly in their shoes and trying to see things from their perspective. You can do research, send out testers or mystery customers, or do focus group discussions — as long as the end goal is to see things from the customers’ viewpoint.

This helps with creating that excellent customer and user experience that will resonate with them because it takes into account their needs, wants and feelings. Especially when solving particular issues or problems, the key to developing a concrete solution is to get into users’ and customers’ heads. Design thinking methodology helps you take a more objective approach to things, dissociating you from biases that would otherwise have hampered you.

2. Define

After gathering all the pertinent information, now is the time to define and classify them. Its about organizing all these data in such a way that helps you develop and draw up the proper initiative — whether it be to address a particular problem or come up with a strategy for improvement. The key again, is to look at things not from your own perspective, but from a more customer-centric angle while also taking into account the bigger picture.

3. Ideate

This is the initiative development stage made possible by the two previous steps. Once they get to this stage, designers now brainstorm on plans of action based on the organized and collected data that they have on hand. Design thinking methodology means looking not only at conventional solutions, but also be willing to think outside the box and come up with alternative and innovate ideas that challenge conventional assumptions and methods of doing things.

4. Prototype

Few things are perfect at the beginning. This is why the prototype stage exists — this serves as a way for decision-makers and leaders to come up with a specific initiative or solution, but also make it so that there is a lot of room for further improvement. Design thinking methodology isn’t about “fire and forget”, it’s more about constantly improving something until it effectively does the job it’s intended to do.

Design thinking methodology recognizes the efficacy of experimentation, thus the scaled-down initiatives which allow for not only a better understanding of the problem at hand, but also of what more can be done not only to solve the problem, but also to improve things.

5. Test

Now it’s time for implementation. Here, you, as the designer, put a product, service or solution (the one developed in the prototype stage) through stringent testing. While this is technically the final stage, the nature of design thinking methodology is constant improvement — which means that any information and data you glean from this implementation phase can and should be used to further improve the initiative itself. More often than not, you will need to revisit the other earlier stages to make the necessary tweaks and adjustments.

As you’ve no doubt observed, the whole process is closely linked together and even often overlap in places. This fluidity and flexibility are responsible for making design thinking methodology so effective. The basic and core stays the same, but the rest is malleable and adaptable depending on the needs, dynamics, and culture of the organization that seeks to use it.

 

Again, while design thinking methodology works well for physical products, the truth is that any problem or issue that needs a creative solution benefit from this kind of approach. Design thinking is not just for artists — anyone that needs a problem/s solved or people that are looking for creative avenues to expand and develop can make use of the methodology. Just ask Intel — certainly NOT a design company, but still saw success through the implementation of design thinking methodology initiatives.

The Importance of Having the Right Tools in The Shed

Design thinking methodology’s effectivity is maximized when you have the proper tools to make things happen. Tools such as those provided by Runrun.it make it easier and more efficient to collaborate and communicate both inside and outside the organization.

Among many other things, use of Runrun.it’s innovative tools allow you to gather and generate many of the data sets you need in all the five stages of the design thinking methodology. What’s more, the data is easily generated in real time. The kind of versatility, uniqueness, and flexibility of Runrun.it’s pioneering and industry-changing tools make it perfect for any company. To see how it can work for your particular organization, check out the free trial here.

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