Design thinking is a 5 steps methodology to create user centered products or services that solve the user specific problem. John E. Arnold was the first to write about it in “Creative Engineering” (1959) soon followed by L. Bruce Archer in “Systematic Method for Designers” (1965). This is an iterative process which means that you can always go back to an earlier stage if you got new insights. The main steps are:
Each stage offers advantages:
Empathize – Personalized Services or Product
Anyone working in innovation knows how much it can hurt financially and emotionally when your new product or service is not bought by your intended audience. The first stage of Design Thinking is all about understanding the final users to create services or products they won’t be able to resist.
- What do they need?
- Who are they?
- What do they believe in?
- What are their goals and expectations?
It is sometimes hard to put oneself in someone else shoes because we are “thinking” individuals. We may not share the same vision of the world or even the same definition of our needs, beliefs and goals. It is helpful to explore the Users position by using positive inquiry.
If you are able to explore the users’ vision of the world and depict it in a way that simplifies identification. You are good to go.
Define – Understanding what hurts / pain points
Another aspect that we may neglect is the Problem itself. You may look at the users’ situation and have an instinctive answer to the issue. You think you know what solution must be implemented. Truth is. You do not understand the problem from the users’ point of view. The advantage of this stage is that it forces you to look deeper and to understand the problem at different level.
- Why does the problem exist?
- Where does it appear?
- Is there another way to look at it?
- Which beliefs system are bound to it?
Ideate – Be creative
This is the creative step. It is the moment when you let your imagination go wild and have fun. You look at the problem with empathy and use your knowledge and expertise to imagine a solution. Your role is to create a service or a product that will solve the problem while taking into account your final user.
The restrictions given by the final users needs and expectations make the creation process challenging. This is when your genius can shine.
Prototype – Get things done
Prototyping allows you to get your hands dirty and create your idea. The best part is that the prototype does not have to be perfect. You need to illustrate how it could look like or what services could be offered. It allows you to get a first impression of the final product or service.
Test – Real life feedback
The test phase is an incredible moment. You see if your idea is answering the needs of the final users. You have the possibilities to find turnarounds thanks to feedback. It is also a moment where a new idea can emerge which is exciting.
Design Thinking a holistic method
Design Thinking creates bounds within the creative team and also with the users who participate to the process. It takes into account the humans within the system and tries to find a solution to a problem while keeping in mind why the service or product is being created.
It brings back human in the center of design.