1. What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking involves redefining problems, understanding the end user and challenging assumptions to try to pinpoint alternate solutions and strategies that may not be immediately obvious. It also provides a solution-driven path to resolving problems.

Design Thinking is an assemblage of experiential methods, as well as a manner of functioning and reasoning. This process is based on the profound interest in cultivating a comprehension of the individuals who are the receivers of products and services. Through it, companies practise empathy and flourish with the end user in mind.

With this kind of thinking, companies question the implications, problems and possible assumptions in dealing with issues that are unknown or vague. It reframes a problem by applying a manual approach in testing and prototyping and in coming up with various concepts when brainstorming.

In a huge way, Design Thinking is engaging in testing, sketching, and prototyping ideas based on end users’ needs. It involves placing one’s self in their shoes, getting as much information from them and observing them.

2. Phases of Design Thinking

The variants of Design Thinking all have similar principles, but there are generally five phases of Design Thinking:

  1. Empathy with end users
  2. Definition of your insights, the end user’s problems and the end user’s needs
  3. Ideation through testing assumptions and conceiving concepts for inventive resolutions
  4. Prototyping to initiate the creation of solutions
  5. Testing the created solutions

These stages are not always followed in a strict order or sequence but call for a continuous flow of feedback between the developer and the client.

3. Benefits of Design Thinking

There are several benefits of Design Thinking including:

3.1 It has linearity and structure

Innovation teams become deeply involved in efforts to include end users in the research. They get engrossed with end users’ views as they design and execute trials and co-create with their stakeholders. The linearity and the structure of Design Thinking help business managers adjust to these brand-new behaviours. Structure enables people to form a systematic way of doing things. The habit we tend to have learned before can be challenging to break. Design Thinking serves as guardrails that help change those formed habits.

As processes are very organised, people are prevented from skipping ahead or delving too long on a specific crisis. They also gain more confidence along the way. Only when there is action can there be innovation, which is why that certain psychological security is vital. While Design Thinking focuses on comprehending and crafting end user experiences, it also redefines the experiences of the developers as well.

3.2 It involves stakeholder immersion and discovery

To identify the job that needs to be accomplished, the process requires examining an end user’s journey instead of depending on a collection of analysed data. Living the end user’s experience is vital in Design Thinking. This requires being with the end user and documenting everything the end user does. Doing so allows the developer to have a more tangible idea of what the end user goes through and allows developers to come up with ideas which can enhance end users’ experiences or quality of life, and not only correct the errors of the product or service.

3.3 It concentrates on the problem

This approach places end users at the centre of the entire process, with the objective to come up with useful solutions and products compatible with what end users require.

3.4 It resolves genuine issues

The process is not a mere combination of innovation and ingenuity but directed towards solving the problems at hand and creating value. Using design principles in formulating solutions for various problems, from minute to immense.

3.5 It takes advantage of diversity

Design Thinking brings numerous voices to the table by creating multi-specialty groups. The members can use their collective expertise, knowledge and experiences.

3.6 It emphasises empathy with the end user

This is the foundation of this process. Also known as discovery, empathy requires the developer to comprehend and spot the difficulties and requirements of the end users.

3.7 It tests solutions

It is essential to create prototypes and embolden quick assessment from end users before investing a significant amount of money, time or effort on any concept.

4. When to use Design Thinking

The following are the ideal circumstances to use Design Thinking:

4.1 Before the start of a project

Before something innovative materialises, this approach should already start. This involves talking to the target market or potential end users who are very likely to purchase and use the product or service. Doing so can make the plans clearer once they are drawn up. Understanding something that the end user needs should always come first.

4.2 When the challenge is human-centred

Comprehending the human facets of a specific challenge and then coming up with concepts based on that understanding are integral parts of Design Thinking. These are essential to the easy incorporation of the newly engineered service or product.

4.3 When the challenge is particularly difficult

If there is a problem that the developer does not understand fully and for which the developer has no solution, Design Thinking should start. Expect habits, human behaviour and emotions to become incorporated into the challenge. To satisfy the complicated needs, experiments and prototyping are performed through this efficient approach.

5. Applying the Design Thinking Process

The different methods involved in Design Thinking are:

5.1 Defining and researching the problem

Research modes such as such as ethnographic analysis which are centred on the end user, are essential in comprehending end user profiles. The goal in this stage is to empathise with and understand the people for whom the service or product is being designed.

5.2. Ideating

At this stage, the aim is to produce a huge number of impressive ideas that offer possible solutions. Mind mapping, sketching and brainstorming are only a few of the techniques often used in this phase.

5.3 Iterating and prototyping

Realising an idea can only be fulfilled if it is made tangible. Testing and refining the tangible idea are even more vital. Prototyping is a means to push the process of creation forward. Prototypes are important in exhibiting and confirming the designs harnessed from the ideation activities. Evaluating the design requires prototyping in the same context and environment it will inevitably be used. The prototypes should relay the flow of experience end users require.

6. Next Steps

If you are keen to transform your service or product through Design Thinking, FNS has a team of Design Thinking facilitators certified by ExperiencePoint, our partner for Design Thinking.

ExperiencePoint, a partner of IDEO, is an award-winning training company in Canada that develops business simulations for leadership development, change management and innovation.

Please contact us at admin@fns.sg for more information.