Design thinking is a popular and growing school of thought for its ability to take ideas out of people’s minds, and implement them. As one expert, Fredrik Heghammar explains it, “Design Thinking is a method of drawing ideas out into the wild”.
Design Thinking is an intuitive problem solving method, that works to draw inspiration from team members minds, and put it into practice. Here at Svava, we have selected a five step method. The steps in this process can easily be repeated and iterated upon to continuously spur your company to success. Other processes contain three like those used by Ideo, and four steps, like those used by the Design Council.
Svava’s experts have selected the five step process for design thinking as each of the five steps serves as an incremental bridge to the next step. This is an iterative process which allows for further development, refinement and testing of ideas, which inhibits teams from moving forward with poor or low quality results.
Empathize: To get an intuitive understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Involves observing and listening, but also engaging those affected by this problem. Often this stage means getting in touch with your customers or end users.
Empathy maps are a common tool utilized in this stage of the design thinking process. These maps ask questions to determine what your customers think, feel, see and hear, for example, when they come into contact with a particular problem, or product..
Define: In this stage, you take the wealth of information you gathered in your empathy map, analyze and synthesize it, to define the problem. Think of this stage as diving deeper, cutting away the less important parts to get to the heart of the problem. The more finite or specific you can get, the better your results will be after this stage.
In this stage of the design thinking process, framing workshops are often utilized. These workshops help to provide context, to set strategic parameters and really define the problem. If your problem is not well defined, your team risks spinning in circles in the next phase.
Ideate: Now that you have gathered the necessary information, and laid the groundwork, you can gather together a group of diverse individuals and brainstorm solutions to the established problem. By defining the problem in the workshop or step before this, you’ve given your participants a solid starting place and inspiration for their ideas.
It’s important in this phase to have a means of capturing or recording ideas, iterating or improving upon ideas, and criteria to evaluate ideas so that additional time and energy is spent only on those that are actionable or impactful.
Prototype: It might seem like the logical next step, but prototyping is a very important part of the design thinking methodology. Before testing begins, prototyping is a crucial step, as it helps to narrow down which ideas will fail, before you invest valuable time, effort and money into developing them further.
Prototyping workshops are a great method of testing the merits of an idea, by bringing together a diverse group of people and approaching the idea from every angle. We often think of prototyping when it comes to building a new physical product, but they’re also useful when drafting a new service, or even developing a new method of reaching your customers.
Test: Once the idea has been prototyped and developed, it can be further tested before going to market. Testing should be rigorous and aim to find any and all potential flaws so that the best possible product or service is offered to your customers.