Is Design Thinking a Catalyst for Innovation?

Key Stages of Design Thinking.

Design thinking is an iterative process that first requires that participants put themselves into the shoes of those for whom they are designing. This stage is about understanding the problem you want to solve, from the perspective of those who need the problem solved. Say you want to create a mobile phone case targeted to parents of toddlers (who tend to chew on things). It’s essential to understand what those parents go through when they’re using their phones while their young children are around. What are their pain points? What have they tried that didn’t work? Brainstorming that is informed by empathy for the customer is better at solving problems.

Brainstorming and Idea Refinement.

Because brainstorming and the refining of ideas are iterative processes, design thinking is a great fit for this activity. What effective design thinking does during the brainstorming and idea refinement stages is bridge the sometimes-egocentric “empathy gap” that can exist between decision-makers and actual customers. It’s essential during these processes for leaders and tech developers to avoid projecting their needs and wants onto the customer. Brainstorming sessions should always include people with different experiences and perspectives in order to produce the most effective collaboration.

An Iterative Process to Catalyze Innovation.

Design thinking appreciates that creativity is ultimately about solving problems. It requires the use of both quantitative data (“People do this”) as well as qualitative data (“Here’s why people do this”). It requires that you do your best to identify with the people who have a problem that needs solving and that you really listen to their needs and ideas. It goes beyond what you would get if, say, you prototyped a product your design team liked and let a focus group play with it.

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