'Design Thinking' and why you should implement a design framework at your company



POSTED 02.02.24

Design Thinking

"Design thinking" is a human-centered approach to innovation that combines the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. It's like a secret sauce that can boost your business's creativity, problem-solving, and overall performance.

'Design Thinking' Cheat Sheet

Why should you care?

Well, design thinking can lead to innovation, and innovation can lead to differentiation and a competitive advantage. Just look at companies like Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and IBM, who have all embraced design thinking and reaped the rewards.

So, how does it work?

Design thinking is all about empathizing with your customers, defining the problem you're trying to solve, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing. It's a flexible and scalable approach that can be adapted to fit your business's needs.

In a nutshell, design thinking is a powerful tool that can help you create products and services that truly resonate with your customers. It's like giving your business a creative superpower, and who wouldn't want that?

Ok, so how do I implement?

Implementing design thinking into a company is important because it can lead to innovation, differentiation, and a competitive advantage. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and IBM have all embraced design thinking and reaped the rewards. By putting the user first and using a structured approach to problem-solving, you can create products and services that truly resonate with your customers, and set your company apart from the competition.

Empathize: Understand your users and their needs by conducting interviews, surveys, and observing them. This will help you create products and services that truly resonate with your customers.

Define: Identify the problem you're trying to solve and define it clearly. This will help you focus your efforts and ensure that everyone in the company is on the same page.

Ideate: Brainstorm solutions to the problem, and encourage your team to think outside the box. This is where the magic happens, and where you'll come up with innovative ideas that will set your company apart.

Prototype: Create a low-fidelity prototype of your solution, and test it with a small group of users. This will help you validate your ideas and make any necessary adjustments before investing too much time and resources.

Test: Test your solution with a larger group of users and gather feedback. This will help you refine your solution and make it even better.

Design Frameworks

A design framework is a helpful practice that encourages innovation and learning. It provides teams with tools and techniques to solve problems, guide solutions, and create better experiences.

Not the hockey stick chart you're looking for

Think of frameworks as cooking recipes: they give cooks instructions, including a list of ingredients to create a specific outcome. Cooks can adjust the process to suit their needs, but unintended consequences may occur if they don't follow the tested steps carefully.

Many leading brands, like Apple, Google, and Samsung, have quickly adopted frameworks such as Double Diamond and Design Thinking for product innovation. But why are these practices so popular?

Why do we need frameworks?

The product design and development process can be complex. When faced with many challenges, teams need structure and techniques to understand the problems and find the right solutions. By adopting frameworks, teams can better comprehend the issues and identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be immediately apparent.

Frameworks help structure the problem-solving process, spark innovation, and encourage collaboration. They are essential building blocks for guiding design solutions.

Now let's dive into the benefits of using design frameworks...

Both end-users and businesses can benefit from frameworks: they provide teams with core principles for delivering solutions that solve real-world problems and achieve commercial objectives.

Frameworks provide structure, guide design solutions, and encourage teams to explore issues more deeply and take focused action. They also offer flexibility to gather new insights and make iterations at any stage in the project.

When a design fails to meet user and business needs or exhausts too many resources, it's likely because the team isn't following a framework. The result is incorrect assumptions, forced decisions, skewed requirements, and an end product that doesn't meet user needs.

Slow first, then fast

Frameworks spark innovation

When teams adopt frameworks, they can develop new ways of thinking to design better solutions, services, and experiences that solve current problems. Besides tech companies, retail brands have also benefited from applying design and development practices to inspire creativity and experimentation.

For example, Nordstrom, an American clothing brand, applied Design Thinking to innovate a user-first product. A team spent a week in their flagship store and used real customers to help build their app. They used paper-based prototypes to learn about behaviors and iterated until they defined a fully functional product that people wanted.

Frameworks are a collaborative tool

Regardless of the person's or team's discipline and requirements, they are all involved in the same process and pursuing the same final goal: the product's future success. Each of them manages frameworks differently, but collaboration is what lets them all reach the desired objective.

Frameworks encourage teams to define, communicate, and collaborate as a network of stakeholders. And each of them possesses a shared stake in goals, processes, and metrics.

Team collaboration is not just about the steps and status of tasks. It's also about the operating environment where people can make local decisions while seeing others' actions and goals.