What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking, as the name implies, is a way of thinking. It helps you gain an insight into what the customer wants. Innovation processes, for instance, are suited to design thinking. Is the true problem still unclear? Do you require more time and space to explore? Would you like this process to take place within clearly defined boundaries so you will end up taking real steps in the right direction? If so, then design thinking, or a design sprint (a compact form of design thinking) might suit your needs.
The Added value of Design Thinking
Design thinking helps us to empathize with customers and stakeholders, clearly define problem statements, explore multiple solutions and prototype and test products. The design thinking process consists of five steps:
- Empathize: who is your target audience, and what do they care about?
- Understand / define: which problem(s) would you like to solve?
- Ideate: which possible solutions can you see?
- Prototype: what could a real solution look like?
- Validate / test: how do customers and stakeholders feel about this solution?
Design Thinking and Agile
Design thinking is is often used in isolation and is best known as a framework to help define and test problems and solutions. But what is the next step? When working in an agile way we often use the phrase ‘known problem, unknown solution’. This clearly shows the connection between Agile and Design Thinking. We can use design thinking to define and understand the issue. Next, we can use the appropriate agile way of working to take the next steps.
A design sprint is a compact and effective form of design thinking. In a design sprint a team works towards a working prototype of a service or product in a single week. The sprint consists of five clear steps where every day has a clearly defined function. Day one is for exploring the problem, day two is for sketching, day three is for making hard decisions and drawing up tests, day four is for building and prototyping, and day five is for testing the product with real customers, collecting feedback and improving. A design sprint is a surprisingly effective way to deliver the maximum result in a short time frame.
Getting started with Design Thinking
The easiest way to get started with Design thinking is to experiment with individual, short Design Thinking techniques to identify new opportunities for your team. If this works well, the next step can be to try a design sprint.