The 5 stages of design thinking can help you solve every day and complex business problems. Learn what they are and how it works.
Everyday in business we are faced with problems we need to solve. How can we grow? How can we get more leads? How can we communicate to both existing and prospective customers? How can we achieve success at our next expo? How can we make our existing customers happier?And the list goes on.
So what if we told you that design thinking can help you solve these problems and more?
And now you might be saying to yourself, “What the hell is design thinking?”
Well, in essence it’s the ability to take a deep interest in the problem at hand and think creatively about the best way you can resolve it. Sure, there are straightforward answers to the above common business challenges.
- How can we grow? Advertise on Facebook.
- How can we get more leads? Design a flyer and arrange a mail out
- How can we communicate to both existing and prospective customers? Send out an email.
You get the picture.
These are stock standard answers and they may very well work, but they don’t differentiate if they are delivered in a stock standard way. If the execution and design quality in the way they are delivered are ‘me-too’, then unfortunately they won’t make you stand out, nor will they have the impact you desire. The other side of the coin is perhaps there are other answers or solutions you haven’t considered that may be better suited for a more positive outcome.
And that’s where design thinking steps in.
‘By using design thinking you can achieve your goals using a creative and innovative problem solving approach, with a higher chance of success’
Design thinking is not exclusive to designers. Some of the world’s leading brands such as Apple, Google, Samsung and GE have all adopted a creative and innovative approach to solving their customer’s problems.
Creativity and innovation are core to the design thinking process and perhaps this is why designers tend to gravitate to this form of problem solving, as it’s congruent with their way of looking at the world.
Design thinking involves delving into a deep interest and understanding of the people whom we are designing products and services for. It helps us observe and develop empathy for the end user, always thinking about how they will feel at the receiving end of our client’s point of contact.
It also helps us through the process of questioning. Questioning the problem, the assumptions, the implications – and if you’ve ever worked with us before, you know we ask a lot of questions before we start any project.
Which leads us into the next benefit of design thinking, defining the problem. Through asking questions, the problem is clarified. At times our clients will approach us with what they think is the problem, but after investigation and research, it may appear that the problem is not what they thought at all or needs to be re-framed, so that our solution is appropriate. The process of brainstorming assists with this and this can be done with the client and sometimes without to ensure lack of bias.
Finally, design thinking involves testing – prototyping, sketching and trialling ideas and concepts.
The 5 stages of design thinking include:
- Empathy – developing an empathetic approach to your users.
- Defining – your user’s needs, their problem and your insights
- Ideation – challenging and questioning the problem, assumptions and implications to create ideas for innovative solutions
- Prototyping – start testing the creation of your solutions
- Testing – test the solutions in the market, re-assess and modify if required.
Bear in mind that the above stages do not need to be sequential and can often occur in parallel and repeat as needed.
So how can design thinking help your business?
Quite simply, by using design thinking you can achieve your goals using a creative and innovative problem solving approach, with a higher chance of success.
The idea is to get your designer and / or marketing strategist involved in your business’ ‘problem-solving’ as early as possible.
Once you have already fixated on a problem and decided that you know how to resolve it, it leaves little room for creativity and innovation to be injected into the solution. To use a common example, as part of your marketing plan, you know that you need to communicate to your existing customers ongoing and you know there are lots of ways to do this but aren’t categorically sure which way is perhaps the better way – then this is the time to implement design thinking.
We encourage all business owners to employ this way of problem solving themselves, however we understand that sometimes it’s beneficial to have a helping hand. So if you feel you need some advice, make that call or send an email to your design house and start the conversation around a new way of thinking about your business problems. Allow an external party who is passionate about ensuring that whatever solution you come up with, it will resonate with your customer and it will have impact.
At the end of the day, problems get solved every single day. But they’re not all solved well.
When it comes to your business, be sure to create (or hire someone to create) solutions to your problems that have an edge that helps you stand out from the rest.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like.
Design it how it works” Steve Jobs
If you would like to know how we can help inject design thinking in your next project, be sure to get in touch with our team.