As the name suggests, design thinking draws heavily from methods a designer would typically use to deliver more user-oriented results. However, that’s not to say that design thinking focuses only on ways to enhance product designs – it seeks to build an enhanced user experience through thoughtful design. Contrary to conventional methods, design thinking doesn’t depend much on historical data, but instead encourages calculated assumptions.   
Tech giants and consumer brands have used and benefited from design thinking alike. Global companies like PepsiCo, Apple, SAP, ESPN, Nike and more have adopted it to predict and deliver futuristic resolutions for customers. Owing to its vast success, design thinking has compelled manufacturers and service providers to rethink their business strategies and embrace a more human-centric approach to problem solving.

Why Design Thinking Appeals to Top Businesses? 

An empathy-driven approach towards problem solving through experimentation and innovation makes design thinking a solution-oriented methodology, rather than that of problem identification. This particular ideology has made design thinking a favourite among business leaders since companies are always looking for ways to step into the future. See how PepsiCo reintroduced their brand and won back the market with design thinking. 
Recent times have thrown an increasing number of unprecedented problems at us, compelling us to consider human behaviour and reactions to change and solutions. Design thinking is a framework to do just that, in a structured manner. It is a nonlinear methodology that involves empathy, ideation, prototyping and implementation to tackle complex issues seamlessly. Qualities like empathy and curiosity is what makes design thinking a unique problem-solving methodology, but it is perhaps the emphasis on human behaviour that makes it the most effective. 

Key Elements of Design Thinking:

The idea that solutions can be tailored to fit user-needs attracts new and established businesses alike. Based on the nonlinear nature, design thinking can be broken down into these following elements. 
Principles of Design Thinking

Phases of Design Thinking:

With the aforementioned principles in mind, design thinking can be divided into five phases. Experts at Stanford Graduate School of Business recommend breaking down these five stages into further steps according to the core principles. This ensures that a detailed analogy is performed before concluding the results. The steps towards successful execution of design thinking are as follows:
Stages of Design Thinking
Empathise:  Design thinking begins with empathy – to gain an insight into the problem that it sets out to resolve. However, more than understanding the problem, this step is crucial to understand the requirements of the user, to deliver a more customised solution. This step involves observing and engaging with the user to understand their behaviour patterns, inclinations, preferences and likely reactions to situations. Only when businesses have fully grasped the user environment and behavioural patterns, will they be able to tailor solutions to fit user needs. 
Define:  The next step in the process is organising all the information collected during the previous phase. This will eventually help you to define the problem statement from a more human-centric perspective. Define stage not only helps in breaking down obscure ideas and issues, but also helps to form a structured approach towards solving it. This is when you lay down the plan and frame questions which need to be answered in order to resolve the issue at hand.
Ideate: This is probably the most crucial phase of all and interestingly, allows a lot of room for creativity. This is when you think radically and prepare for experimentation to champion the user-experience. It’s important to bring fresh perspectives to the table at this stage and think of new ways of resolving the issue. It’s also equally important to consider probable obstacles both from the user’s end and environmental while suggesting these solutions. 
Prototype: Prototyping involves curating your best ideas and putting them into shape. This stage allows designers to test the effectiveness of the solution internally in a small scale environment before presenting it for implementation. This could also mean executing all the probable solutions and checking for their effectiveness. An important part of this phase is eliminating all the failed/ less effective options and moving forward with the best ones. Prototyping allows designers to understand how users would typically behave or react to any particular solution, thereby helping them form a more realistic solution that can be adopted on a larger scale.
Testing: The final stage of design thinking involves testing the best solutions of the previous stage. Since this is an iterative methodology, the results of this stage are used to refine the end solution further. More often than not, the solutions identified in the prototyping phase undergoes major changes or are even discarded to fit the real environment user-needs. The end result of this phase is then a tried and tested solution which will endure the environmental hindrances and user expectations. 

Learning Design Thinking

While design thinking has been around for a while now, many businesses are yet to adopt it. As an increasing number of brands keep looking for ways to weave design thinking into their business strategies, marketers, product engineers and business leaders keep looking for ways to master this methodology. Fortunately, for those interested, top international business schools are offering courses that aim at equipping future business strategists with knowledge that help brands prioritise user experience. SGSB (Stanford Graduate School of Business) is among the best to offer courses on Design thinking. You can even enrol for these courses through Great Learning – India’s premier institute of e-learning. Check out the curriculum here for a better understanding of the course formats.

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