Businesses today recognize the importance of design thinking in innovation. Due to its ability to solve complex problems and be sensitive to human needs without compromising on feasibility, design thinking is one of the leading approaches to innovation across businesses worldwide.
Without innovation, companies cannot strive to survive in the competitive market, where user needs change rapidly. By adopting design thinking methods, organizations can transform their ideas into functional processes and products catering to the needs of their customers.
Design thinking encompasses the following steps or stages:
- Empathizing: to understand the problem from the perspective of human needs
- Defining: to re-frame the problem statement in a human-centric way
- Ideating: to come up with a wide variety of solutions and ideas
- Prototyping: to create workable samples to assess feasibility of ideas generated
- Testing: to put the prototype to test to finalize on the best solution
Several methods of design thinking exist, both in industry and academia. Here, we will focus on six methods of design thinking, all of which are known to enhance communication among multi-disciplinary teams, their use of visualization techniques, as well as, for its user simplicity for non-experts.
Methods of Design Thinking and Innovation
- PERSONAS: this method is used to identify the needs and desires of the user. The persona refers to a “character” which can be used by both the client and the designer as a means of communication in the design process. It is usually employed during the empathizing and defining stages of design thinking. Persona method of design thinking can be used when developing marketing products, for communication and to reflect the human-centric approach of design thinking.
- STAKEHOLDER MAP: A stakeholder map is a visual representation of the various groups involved in a particular product or service, such as customers, users, partners, organizations, companies, and other stakeholders . This map can be used to analyze and understand the interconnections between the various stakeholders for a number of purposes. According to Curedale , this map is vital during the defining stage, to identify the key members in the designing process and their relations with one another.
- CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP (CJM): This technique was born out of service blue-printing. It involves a description of a collection of touchpoints from the start to finish of service delivery, from the point of view of the customer. A “touchpoint” refers to “an instance or a potential point of communication or interaction between a customer and a service provider”. Using the CJM, one can identify the chances of service innovation and improvement. This method of design thinking can be used during the empathizing stage.
- SERVICE BLUEPRINT: This method was developed by Shostack. It is basically a template depicting the steps and flow of service delivery related to the role of the stakeholder as well as the process of delivery. It shows all actions, including technical activities, between the service provider and the customer. In the context of design thinking, this method is useful during the defining stage as it gives an idea of all the in-front tasks and back tasks.
- BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATION: Using a Business Model Canvas (BMC), one can explore the market opportunities, which is central to Business Model (BM) Innovation. Since it describes the business logic of any idea, solution, product etc via visual representation, the BMC is useful as a method of design thinking during the ideation phase.
- RAPID PROTOTYPING (RP): As the name suggests, rapid prototyping allows a quick, visual manifestation of the ideas chalked out on the drawing board. It is useful to determine which of the suggested ideas are technologically possible. RP enhances communication across teams as it provides a visual and tangible representation that can be assessed and analyzed to finalize on a product or service that adequately solves the problem. The RP is directly in line with the prototyping stage of design thinking.
At any given point of time, no one method can be sufficient to carry out the design thinking process. The most elaborate and global approach would involve a combination of the methods during the various stages to zero in on a practical and feasible solution to the problem at hand, albeit in a way that meets the human needs – something integral to design thinking.
REFERENCES  Stickdorn, M., Schneider, J.: This is Service Design Thinking; Basics, Tools, Cases. BIS Publishers, Amsterdam (2010)  Curedale, R.: Design Thinking: Process and Methods Manual. Design Community College Incorporated, Topanga (2013)  Halvorsrud, R., Lee, E., Haugstveit, I.M., Følstad, A.: Components of a visual language for service design. In: Proceedings of ServDes 2014, pp. 291–300 (2014)  Shostack, G.L.: Designing services that deliver. Harvard Bus. Rev. 62(1), 133–139 (1984)