How using a defined process leads to success
Design thinking is our favorite method for creating innovative solutions. It is the foundation for creating human-centered solutions. We focus on the humans who use the products, services and software we design, instead of relying on assumptions. This process also helps to break down complex problems.
Design thinking uses research, an iterative approach to design, and rapid prototyping. This minimizes risk typically associated with launching a new product or feature.
Design thinking is not a linear path, and it is common to revisit different stages of the process to provide clarification or to gain more understanding. Many companies adopt the design thinking process to work for their company’s needs. At Standard Beagle, we use the five-stage process — empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
We create empathy in the first stage of the design thinking process to help us connect with the people with needs we want to solve. Though the end solution can vary, the process begins with understanding the people involved through interviews, observations, and background research.
Typically, this research involves stakeholders, employees, and end users. Creating an empathetic understanding helps us put aside our own assumptions and allows us to see things from a different perspective.
After we create empathy, it’s time to define the need we need to solve.
During the definition phase, we synthesize the information uncovered in research. It includes pain points and trends, and we analyze the results to see if they lead to a common problem. Typically, there is a correlation gathered from our observations, and we can identify a unique problem. We write a problem statement and use it to focus the rest of the process.
Now that we’ve defined the problem and backed it by data, we can generate potential solutions. This is a great time to think outside of the box. We used methods to identify new solutions to solve the problem. Often this involves numerous group ideation sessions.
No idea is too wild during this stage and free thinking is encouraged. It’s important to leave this stage with as many ideas as possible, and no idea is ever too far fetched.
In the fourth phase, we refer back to the first few stages and choose the solutions that best solve the problem.
We choose the most viable idea to prototype. This choice depends on what makes the most sense for the user, the business and budget, and the technology available.
The key here is to implement rapid prototyping so we can experiment with different ideas quickly and effectively. These prototypes are real enough to be believable, but they must also be fast to create, minimizing a bit of the risk.
Test & Iterate
Testing the product with other people outside of our team will uncover if we have identified a viable solution.
The goal here is not to make it but, but rather to see if it fails or succeeds.
Sometimes, testing leads us back to an earlier stage to redefine the problem or solution. Sometimes, we realize we solved the problem straight away — and that’s great. Often, iteration by walking through the steps of the process as needed is normal, especially if the solution isn’t solving the problem.
Remember, the design thinking process may seem linear in the fact that there are five distinct stages that you travel through in a certain process — but it is a nonlinear process that requires flexibility and open-mindedness to be effective. The goal is to find the right solution for the problem, and sometimes that requires revisiting the process.