The 6 Steps in the Design Thinking Process

Why should you be concerned with Design Think?

Design Thinking. Surely you have heard this term before, and you can also imagine something among the two words individually. But what does the combination mean? Today, design thinking is firmly anchored in agile working environments and promotes both innovation and customer-centric thinking.
If you want to bring structure to your innovation process and promote creativity in your company, it’s important to focus on design thinking. Here we explain what this is and what steps are taken to implement it.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking dates back to the mid-1980s and was appropriately developed by an Innovation Agency (IDEO). It is now a popular and established method for structuring innovation development.
In this approach, the focus is on the person or the customer, it is possible to find out exactly what their needs are. The entire process is divided into 6 steps, which we will explain to you below. The process does not have to be linear, but runs much more often in loops. Feedback from a later step can mean that one or two steps need to be taken to optimize to move step closer to the solution. This is even desirable in design thinking.
Constant learning from each other, the exchange of many different opinions and points of view and a regular questioning of the status quo are important components in the design thinking process. He allows mistakes to be made and even encourages them to learn from them and really find a solution that works.
The goal of Design Thinking is to avoid a typical mistake in the development of an offer: a product is developed and when it finally comes onto the market, no one is interested in it. As is unfortunately all too often, in this situation the customer’s needs were not addressed and the customer was not honestly asked for his opinion. This can be counteracted with design thinking.
The process is mainly used in product development, but can also be used to create services or to bring structure into creative projects. It can be used once as an experiment or even firmly integrated into the structures and working methods of a company.

The 6 Steps in Design Thinking

Understand

First of all, it is a matter of understanding its target group. What problems does your customer have? How is he trying to solve them? What prevents him from a successful solution? What are his needs? In order to support this step, intensive research is worthwhile. The result can be recorded later in step 3, e.g. in a buyer persona.

This step should be carried out thoroughly and extensively, as it forms the basis for all further steps. In the end, every employee should be able to immerse themselves in the customer and think from their perspective.

Watch

In the second step, you interview your customers and observe them to get to know their problems and needs even more closely. Here it is important to listen to your customers unbiasedly and to look outside the box. In the best case, you can even help your customers solve the problem to see how they have handled it so far. This step will allow you to review your assumptions from step 1 and further define them. To capture this step, you can write dialogues, make videos or take photos. It is important to stay in the real environment and to avoid artificial laboratory conditions. Also, try to talk to the full spectrum of your customers, from die-hard fans to critics.

Defining your point of view

Next, summarize your insights from the first two steps. This can take the form of a buyer persona. The more detailed the persona, the better. In this step, insights into the target group are developed and a 360-degree view of the customers is reproduced.

Finding ideas

The foundations have been laid and you have developed a deep understanding of your target group. Now it is a matter of finding ideas to solve the problem. A popular technique for this step is brainstorming. Role-playing or the 6-3-5 method are also suitable for this purpose. All solutions are collected first, without any evaluation. It is also worth involving external persons in this step in order to avoid operational blindness.

Developing prototypes

In the penultimate step, you will deal with the implementation of the collected ideas. Prototypes are created for this purpose, which make it possible to visualize and illustrate the ideas. The prototype does not have to be a costly mature version, but is only used for illustration and testing. This step will probably have to be completed a few times to find the optimal solution, so don’t invest too much time and money in creating a prototype. It is more important to get feedback.

Test

In the penultimate step, you will deal with the implementation of the collected ideas. Prototypes are created for this purpose, which make it possible to visualize and illustrate the ideas. The prototype does not have to be a costly mature version, but is only used for illustration and testing. This step will probably have to be completed a few times to find the optimal solution, so don’t invest too much time and money in creating a prototype. It is more important to get feedback.

Conclusion on Design Thinking

Virtually every company strives for innovation. In addition to the appropriate framework conditions, a lot of courage and an open-minded corporate culture, however, a suitable methodology is also needed to produce innovations. This is where design thinking starts. It structures the process in 6 sub-steps, which are relatively easy to understand and implement. It also offers scope for individual adjustments, so steps can be completed multiple times or moved from one step to the previous one to make adjustments. It is crucial to maintain a basic attitude that always promotes innovation and to focus on people and their needs. It’s worth trying out design thinking for any company. However, it should be noted that the process alone is not yet a guarantee of innovation or creativity. Various other factors, such as team composition and culture, also come into play here.

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