Innovation as a core value lies at the heart of a majority of industries and companies. Without innovation, one cannot strive to promote and progress as an organization. But what drives innovation? Design thinking is a strategy which is being embraced as a tool for sparking ideas and leading to innovation.
WHAT IS DESIGN THINKING?
Simply put, design thinking is a methodology used by designers to find solutions to complex problems for their clients. The notable feature of this method is that it does not focus on the problem; rather it is solution-focused and action-oriented. Using creativity, imagination, logic and reasoning, design thinking aims to generate several possible outcomes that benefit the customer.
“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
– Tim Brown CEO, IDEO
Design thinking follows a structured pattern which enables the designers to come up with the most feasible solutions and options for their clients. The reason why organizations rely on design thinking for innovation is because the structured approach for understanding and pursuing innovation ensures real contribution that leads to growth and added value.
A general framework of design thinking is as follows:
- DISCOVERY: involves choosing a topic that is strategic to innovation, gathering data and, identifying, understanding and empathizing with the unmet needs in the area
- (RE)FRAME OPPORTUNITY: involves looking for patterns and insights, questioning assumptions, framing one’s point of view and, defining the scope
- INCUBATE: The most underrated step involves doing nothing at all regarding the issue at hand. It involves taking a step back from the problem and focusing on diverse other stimuli, sleeping on the problem, meditating etc.
- IDEATE / ILLUMINATE: Here one starts to work on the ideas, come up with possible solutions, explore all kinds of possibilities, give shape to the ideas
- EVALUATE/REFINE IDEAS: Charting out the pros and cons, limitations, viability, feasibility of every idea and solution
- RAPID PROTOTYPE/TEST: Put your ideas to action albeit in a small way, observe how the solution works out if put to test
- DELIVER: It involves finally putting your idea out there. Seeking the final approval and launching
- ITERATE AND SCALE: involves evaluating the final course of action, learning from it, creating better alternatives and finally, leading to innovation
What lies at the core of design thinking and innovation is the deep understanding of the clients’ or customers’ unmet or unarticulated needs. That is where the greatest source of new ideas and hence, higher margins lie. What makes design thinking less prone to risks? It involves a carefully charted out path to meet customers’ needs by engaging the customer in the process; walking them through the prototypes to learn from their inputs and refining it along the way. The reliance on customer insights from real-world experiments instead of simply on market research or historical date makes design thinking a far better strategy and method for achieving innovation.