In simple words, businesses do not have it easy.
The increasing complexity of modern technology, turbulent business environments, and resource scarcity have put considerable competitive pressure on many businesses.
Rapid technological development and increased global access to geographically unlimited markets open infinite choices to consumers for the best satisfaction of their needs when choosing products. Providing exceptional value to customers is therefore vital to any organization to sustain its business in the future.
As a result, there is conflict among existing business methods or evolving business environments, frequently causing chaos in the thoughts of business executives on how to sustain their businesses in changing circumstances.
Business managers may have to resolve Design Thinking to tackle these multifaceted problems to stay afloat.
What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to tackling problems by understanding a customer's needs and behavior to design innovative answers to these problems.
The ideology behind design thinking states that to produce innovative solutions, one must adopt a designer’s mindset and approach the problem from the consumer's perspective.
Design thinking is all about getting directly involved with the user. You focus on turning your ideas into actual, testable products or processes within the shortest possible time. The designer is tasked with the responsibility to empathize with the user by viewing the world from their perspective, engaging with them to understand their problems better, and creating a lasting solution in the shortest possible time.
Is Design Thinking Limited to Tech?
Design thinking started as a process for creating sleek innovative tech products. But this methodology is now widely used across both the private and public sectors, for business and personal projects, all around the world. Fashion companies, Beauty enthusiasts, and Food and Manufacturing companies now adopt the Design Thinking technique to position their products in the international markets. Design Thinking is for everyone and every business.
How Companies Can Improve Productivity Through Design Thinking
Linda Naiman in European Business Reviews says that designing is more than creating a product. Design is transforming the way leading companies create value.
The focus of innovation has shifted from engineering-driven to design-driven, from product-centric to customer-centric, and from marketing-focused to user-experience-focused. Consumer-centric organizations like Starbucks, Nike, Bank of America, Nordstrom, etc., have successfully engaged in design thinking.
Shay Namadarian thinks that if these companies have self-reported their success, then it means that Design Thinking yields results.
To improve productivity, business managers need to follow the five stages of Design Thinking.
Empathize: This is the most crucial stage of Design Thinking. Design thinkers need to realize that the problems they are trying to solve are not theirs; they are those of the consumers. Therefore, you must show empathy, and observe their needs to know who they are and what is important to them. Understanding their way of life and how they interact with their environment will provide an insight into their problems and how you might be able to help them.
Define: This is the stage after empathy. This is where the design thinker clearly outlines the challenges s/he is facing. In this stage, you must be able to carve out an actionable statement that will serve as your Point of View. It is your new understanding of the problem that the user is facing. This will help shape your design.
Ideate: At this stage, the design thinker must be able to use the knowledge collected to generate ideas to transition from identifying problems to creating solutions. Harness the uniqueness of your team members to generate and select the best ideas for the prototype.
Prototype: The prototype is anything that a user can interact with, with little information. While building prototypes, the design team should remain focused and not be emotionally attached to one prototype. The user's needs are the most important. They should come as cheap and quick as possible so the company can move on to another prototype if it fails. The company would have also lost less money.
Test: The test stage is the final stage in this process. This is where you request feedback from the consumer. Testing provides an opportunity to understand if your prototype worked or whether you need to return to your drawing board. It informs the next iteration of prototypes.
The Design Thinking Mentality
Based on the design process stages analyzed above, managers can adopt a design thinking mentality to help improve productivity and grow their businesses. Practice and get better at noticing things. The first step you want to take as a manager “is to observe a situation and notice what is happening,” said Thompson and Schonthal.
Many can swear that they know the perfect need of the customers without engaging them until they realize otherwise. Your weltanschauung may well limit how you perceive the visual world when you focus on one thing.
Discard your perception of the user's needs and learn to listen and observe them. Then, you must learn inductively, draw inferences based on limited information and compare recurring patterns. As IDEO’s Human-Centered Design Mindsets defines, business executives should possess the ability to learn from failure and use failure as a tool to improve their practices. It would help if you were not afraid to fail and learn quickly.
Design Thinking is a flexible approach suitable for every business, big or small. As a business manager, you must never stop iterating until you get it right.
Rather than create products that people take years to understand, why not create products that would make them proclaim it is the missing piece they have been searching for? Also, you can sign-up for our Virtual Product Design Bootcamp next year, where you learn practical steps to apply design thinking to your business.
This virtual Bootcamp teaches UX design practices, tools, and agile management principles. Join the waitlist today.