Let’s borrow a time machine and travel back in time. What would you see? Horse-drawn coaches; no telephones; perhaps even hunter-gatherers looking for a square meal for the tribe.
Our lives today are, of course, different. Innovations in technology and agriculture have made living in the modern world simpler and easier. One would think, therefore, that innovation equals progress.
But is this true? In the book, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, author Tim Brown show us that, although innovation is powerful, it hasn’t exactly made our lives better. What is needed to invent truly innovative products or services that make our lives truly better is a whole different type of thinking, called design thinking.
Many people understand innovation to be simply the process of inventing a new technology. When you have your new invention, then you have an “innovation.“
This view is far too simplistic. In contrast, design thinking offers you a method to approach the process of innovation, and thus achieve a more sophisticated understanding of innovation itself.
Design thinking encourages us to take an integrative approach to innovation. This approach combines three overlapping “spaces,” through which a project may cycle several times.
First comes inspiration. In this space, we consider a problem or opportunity, thinking about what we can do to solve the problem or bring the opportunity to fruition. Second is ideation. Here we develop our ideas and theories, and then put them to the test. Last is implementation. In this space, we introduce our idea to the market.
You won’t march directly through these three spaces – rather, most innovations will pass through each space a number of times as part of the design thinking process.
For example, during the process of ideation, you could develop a product with features that go beyond addressing your initial problem. In this case, you might want to revisit the inspiration process, to consider what different kinds of problems your product’s new feature could solve.
To create an integrated solution, a design thinker must balance three aspects: feasibility, viability and desirability. Whereas a “normal” designer may resolve the different aspects of a project separately and one by one, a design thinker brings them all together as one harmonious solution.
The gaming console Nintendo Wii offers an example of an integrated solution that perfectly balances feasibility, viability and desirability.
Nintendo introduced gestural control to console gaming, which at the time was not only feasible (if not cutting-edge) but viable. The company also priced the console less than other machines on the market, while providing a more immersive experience for the player – thus making the Wii desirable for their target market.
In the course of your design projects, you too should make this integrative approach the foundation of your design thinking.
ccording to economist Peter Drucker, a designer’s job is to convert need into demand. Simple enough, yet how exactly does a designer move doing this?
Design thinking supposes that the simplest insights come from observation, or taking a better have a look at how people live their daily lives.
Psychologist Jane Fulton Suri says that we are so good at adapting our behaviors to inconvenient situations that we’re often not responsive to the “thoughtless acts” that might trigger inspiration for the observant designer.
Imagine an office worker trying to mapped out the tangled chaos of cables under his desk by sticking a label to every one. He likely wouldn’t have come up with this solution had he been asked directly the way to solve this particular problem.
This is why observing people’s real-life behavior is so important. Observing provides meaningful insights into pressing needs.
Yet design thinking goes beyond mere observation, therein it also invites people to have interaction in creating solutions to their own problems.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow suggests that after a person’s basic needs are met, he will look instead for meaningful or emotionally satisfying experiences. From a design perspective, a good customer experience is one that fulfills these higher-order needs.
But since every body has different needs and aspirations, design thinking proposes that we let people participate in creating their own customer experience to form it personally meaningful and fascinating to them.
Whole Foods Market, as an example, is one in all the foremost successful retailers within the u. s., because the store provides an enriching shopping experience by offering free samples of products and a good kind of healthy products that cater to customers’ lifestyles.
At a full Foods Market location in Austin, Texas, the corporate is even experimenting with letting customers cook inside the store!
This sort of hands-on approach allows customers to have interaction and thus gives them the chance to form their own meaningful experience.
Many folks played with LEGOs as children, building our own dreamworlds brick by colorful brick. As adults, however, we do most of our inventing in our heads long before we employ our hands to comprehend our ideas concretely.
Yet thinking with our hands, or prototyping, may be a powerful strategy for design thinkers because it can generate better results faster. By actually building a plan (with materials, instead of with only our minds), we quickly learn its limitations and see the numerous possible directions we are able to take it.
Thus prototyping shouldn’t come at the top of the method but at the beginning!
The earlier you begin prototyping, the more rudimentary your prototypes are going to be. But consider that a ball from a roll-on deodorant and a plastic dish was all it took to prototype Apple’s first mouse!
Once you have got a prototype, you must put it come in the $64000 world and observe how people use it. This way, you’ll be able to quickly discern whether it “works” or how people actually would use it.
When T-Mobile started social groups via mobile phones, as an example, the corporate launched two prototypes simultaneously and observed how users interacted with each. Thus the corporate was able to get a deeper understanding of which solutions customers found more compelling.
The reason prototyping is so powerful is because it occupies all three spaces of innovation without delay.
It is always inspirational, therein using and observing a prototype gives birth to new ideas and potential improvements. twiddling with a prototype may be a thanks to test and develop your idea. In other words, it fits solidly within the ideation space.
And prototyping demonstrates the viability of a plan, showing that it can actually work which it belongs within the marketplace, discoveries that sleep in the implementation space.
Our love of storytelling starts at an early age, and stories are a minimum of partly to blame for how we understand ideas and ideas.
Thus it should be no surprise that storytelling too plays an important role in design thinking.
Design thinkers use stories to make a product more relatable to customers. To develop a good story, a design thinker must consider how a product came into being and how a customer will use it over time.
Importantly, the storyline must involve the customer at every step, reaching as far back as the very beginning of the product’s life.
For outdoor wear company Icebreaker, this meant attaching a code to each of its garments, with which a customer could track, for example, the wool in a jacket to its source in New Zealand, even to the exact farm where the Merino sheep are cared for.
The ways in which a customer uses a product over its lifespan should also be considered when developing a story.
To sell a project that was essentially a predecessor of a modern GPS system, IDEO designers told a story about a sailor navigating from one port to the next. Each “chapter” in the story described another important problem the sailor encountered along his journey, and each solution was a feature that was to be developed for the system.
But the most meaningful stories are those which customers can write themselves. By engaging customers as active participants in a product’s story, they will be more inclined to use the product or service.
The American Red Cross used this to its advantage when it invited people to share stories and motivations for donating blood – a mother’s life was saved thanks to a blood transfusion, for example – thus reinforcing the goal of getting donors to return.
These stories remind donors of the good that they do, and motivate new donors to contribute as well to this “common commitment.”
Check out my related post: Can companies from different industries learn from one another?