Design Thinking

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What if a product or a solution were not just standard templated ones but were thought through to suit what you wanted as a user? What if you were the center of all the efforts that go on in designing the product or solution?

Design Thinking is an approach to problem-solving, product and solution design, and innovation that is more human-centric and focuses on problems or needs from the user’s perspective. This approach creates iterations in the design process. It follows a creative and innovative framework to arrive at solutions that fully understand the problem and consider the end-user’s actual needs, pain points, and potential gains.

When did design thinking become popular?

Though Design thinking has existed for decades, it gained significance and application outside the design community after an article by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, in the 2008 Harvard Business article titled “Design Thinking.” Since then, Design thinking has been successfully adopted into every field and industry worldwide: be it product development, problem solving or services, sales, or customer service.

What are the five stages of design thinking?

The design thinking framework generally goes through 5 stages. The stages perhaps are not always following a linear pattern and could return to any stage at any point of time owing to its iterative patterns. 

Empathize  

Since design thinking is based on user-centric design, the framework must be built keeping in mind the end-user. Thus, understanding who the end-user is, their needs and wants, recognizing their fears and apprehensions, foreseeing the benefits they would reap, envisaging how they feel while using it, and so on would form the crux of the design. 

So, it is paramount that the design team comes out from their assumptions and biases and gain true insight into the user’s needs and gains.

At this stage, the design team could use activities such as observations, qualitative interviews, immersions, and tools like an empathy map.

Define

After putting together, the empathetic information gathered, the design team should distinctly define the problem statement, translating the insights gained into concise problem statements that encase the problem or need to be solved. 

The design team should take special care in ensuring that the problem statement encapsulates the user’s needs and is not around abstracts or assumptions of their own.

The design team uses activities and tools such as the ‘point of view template.’

Ideate

After preparing a synthesized human-centered problem statement, the design team transitions to the ‘Ideate’ stage, where they generate ideas on tackling the user’s needs.

At this stage, a plethora of ideas is generated, ranging from simple to difficult to tackle the problem at hand. The list of ideas is then tested and refined based on priorities, budgets, feasibilities, and other constraints.

The design team could typically use many ideation techniques such as brainstorming, round-robin, brainwriting, rapid-ideation, figure storming, Eidetic image method, and so on.

Prototype

After the plausible best solutions are arrived at, the design team creates prototypes of the solutions. Here the design team builds inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the best solutions identified of the product itself. During this stage, the design team also understands the resources required, the cost involved, and the constraints inherent to the product and understands how users would behave or react to the end product.

The design team could investigate the solutions individually or as a whole, accept, re-examine, improve or even reject the solution at this stage.

Test

In the test stage, the final solution is tested against the empathized initial need. Here the design team tries to understand how well the users accept the solution through feedbacks. The results will help the design team redefine any subsequent problems that could arise from the solution delivered. Following issues could then be, chained back to the previous stages as applicable for further refinement and alterations.

Conclusion

Design Thinking may improve product management by reorienting the entire team’s approach and attention from only the product to the human beings who use these products and how these products improve their lives. By connecting with people and their difficulties and applying design thinking to tackle these problems, you can help create the proper solutions that resonate with users.

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