Magdalena Hernandez Sep 15, 2022 8 min read

Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

If you're an entrepreneur, employee, or designer, you know how much pressure there is to innovate. For many, it's a secret sauce – the road to success and progress. 

Believe it or not, innovation (effective and actionable ideas) gives brands or businesses an edge over their competitors. Whether Apple, Uber, or Airbnb, all were the products of innovation. 

However, the problem that all these companies, including yours, often experience is the scarcity of innovative thinking. 

Maintaining or furthering your market position requires constant innovation and creative thinking. So, it should become an integral part of your company's DNA. 

But how do we achieve innovation or come up with creative ideas? Design Thinking can help! 

What's Design Thinking Exactly?

Design-thinking is an iterative development where you get to know your users, redefine problems, challenge assumptions, and create unique 'innovative' solutions that you can model and test. 

The primary objective of Design Thinking is to determine alternative solutions and strategies that you can't fathom with an initial understanding.   

It's more than a process; in fact, design thinking helps open a new way where you can think 'differently' and provides a wide array of hands-on techniques to help implement it. 

Design thinking:

  • Helps develop and observe empathy with targeted customers
  • Proves beneficial when tackling unknown or ill-defined problems
  • Helps develop effective questioning skills. Examine everything from issues and assumptions to implications and more
  • Includes continuous experimentations through prototypes, sketches, trials, and testing of new ideas and concepts
  • Helps you understand the people you design services and products for

Now that you know what design thinking is let's delve into why it's increasingly popular worldwide.

Why is Design Thinking popular?

Design thinking allows businesses or brands to create value for customers. Not only it's useful for design systems but all complex systems. 

Here are a few convincing reasons why design thinking is essential and widely popular:

1. Helps solve consumer needs

Through a human-centric, observational approach, you can identify customer pain points that you previously didn't think of, issues that even customers are oblivious of.

When identified, design thinking helps you solve those pressure points with innovative solutions.

2. Tackles issues that are both ambiguous and challenging 

Often, consumers find it hard to communicate their pressing problems requiring immediate solutions. 

However, with close observation, you can pinpoint issues depending on what you see from actual buyer behavior (consumer behavior) instead of the run-of-the-mill ideas of a consumer. 

This way, you can define challenging and obscure problems, making it easier to seek innovative solutions.  

3. Leads to better and more effective solutions

Design thinking helps people think outside the box. People using this technique will be able to:

  • Attempt to create new ways: Approaches that are unique and mustn't follow the common or dominant problem-solving ways
  • Have an intention to enhance processes, services, and products: They try to understand and analyze how customers interact with services or products to check their operational conditions 
  • Challenge assumptions and ask important questions: One of the main elements of innovative thinking is falsifying past assumptions. In other words, attempt to show whether they're invalid or well-founded 

All this outside-the-box thinking leads to better and more effective solutions!

Design Thinking makes companies run efficiently and faster 

Instead of investigating an issue for a while without framing a result, design-thinking helps you create prototypes and test them to see their effectiveness and functionality. 

The five phases of Design Thinking

Design thinking helps incite creative strategies and thinking that lead brands to develop user-friendly products or services, helping solve specific issues. 

According to Hasso Plattner Institue of Design, design thinking involves five stages. It's important to note that these phases aren't always sequential; they can be run in parallel, iterative fashion, and out of order.

Here is the five-stage framework that design thinking follows:

1. Empathize (Research Customers' Needs)
  • What? You'll have to observe and engage your targeted audience in the empathy stage. 
  • Why? This stage helps you know your end users, what problems they encounter, and the expectations and needs that must be addressed.
  • How? You'll have to conduct interviews, observation sessions, and surveys to build customer empathy. 
2. Define
  • What? Depending on what you learn from the empathy stage, you must define the problem statement. 
  • Why? Your statement will set out specific challenges you address. The problem statement will guide your design thinking process and help you stay focused on your goals and keep customers in mind. 
  • How? When devising a problem statement, focus on your customer's needs instead of business. Good problem statements are human-centered and full of creativity and provide direction and guidance. 
3. Ideate
  • What? With a clearly-defined problem statement, you'll have to think up various ideas and prospective solutions in this stage. 
  • Why? This stage involves thinking out of the box and researching new angles. You can get plenty of innovative ideas when you focus on quantity instead of the quality of ideas. 
  • How? During ideation, you'll use various ideation techniques like reverse thinking, worse-possible idea, and body-storming.
4. Prototype
  • What? After choosing your favorite idea, you'll have to turn it into a prototype or a scaled-down version of a concept or product you wish to try.
  • Why? This stage provides you with a tangible object you can test on real customers. It's vital in maintaining user-centric approaches. 
  • How? Based on your test, a prototype can take different forms, from a basic model to a digital, interactive prototype.
5. Test
  • Why? The testing stage helps you see where prototypes worked well and where they need improvement. You can improve it based on customer feedback before spending more money and time developing your solution. 
  • How? You'll perform a customer testing session when your targeted customers engage with a prototype. Make necessary changes in the design or devise a new idea – whatever you deem fit – after the testing stage. You can also collect verbal feedback. 

Definity First can help you with the Design Thinking Process

Thanks to design thinking, the value of customer experience is increasingly high when comparing a UX project to other investments with similar goals. For example, several smartphones were available in the market before Apple; likewise, there were various social networking sites and taxis before Facebook, Uber, and so on. 

All these big companies have one thing in common – their unrelenting focus on customers and delivering a better customer experience, something you would only achieve through design thinking.  

Are you looking for a better and more effective workplace to think innovatively? Definity First modern workplace can help! They help brands build better relationships and a culture where free thinking is the way to go! For more info, contact us!