Design thinking is a term used to represent a set of cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts are developed.
The designer's mindset embraces empathy, optimism, iteration, creativity, and ambiguity. And most critically, design thinking keeps people at the center of every process. A human-centered designer knows that as long as you stay focused on the people you're designing for—and listen to them directly—you can arrive at optimal solutions that meet their needs.
When companies set strategy, they often stumble. Either they collect a lot of backward looking data that doesn't tell them what future customers really want, or they make risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence. Design thinking, is a strategy making process that avoids these mistakes, by applying tools from the world of design and shifting the focus to human behaviour.
Popularised by David M Kelly and Tim Brown of IBM and roger martin of the Rothmans school, design thinking has three major stages.
- Invent a future.
Form a few theories about what customers might want but don't have by immersing yourself in their lives. Instead of polling them about specific products and services, observe and ask questions about their behaviours.
- Test your ideas out.
Use iterative prototyping with good-enough products or services and conduct a few experiments to see how consumers respond. Adjust the product, pricing or positioning accordingly.
- Bring the new product or service to life.
When you've got a winner, identify the activities, capabilities and resources your company will need to actually distribute produce and sell it.
For example, when senior managers at P$G Wanted to turn around the skincare brand Oil and Olay, they began be observing shoppers in high end department stores, they realised that their industry had been primarily targeting women over 50 who were worried about wrinkles whille pretty much ignoring people in their 30's and 40's who were concerned about other issues. Thijs was a huge market to be captured, so P&G experimented with new formulations that would tackle multiple skincare goals, then tested different prototypes, price-points and store displays. Finally they launched a series of new premium products, that were well received by a wide range of consumers.
By using imaginative human-centric problem solving, design-thinking can help you unlock new markets and identify new strategies and customers.