Design thinking is a specific methodology of creative problem solving. It’s goal is to provide and implement innovative solutions by using particular work methods which boost creativity. Then, all designed activities are translated into a business scheme - it’s such a universal concept, that can be used both, in start-ups and large corporations as well.
There are various design stages, which boil down to a corresponding action path. In practice, the most common design thinking process is divided into 5 stages:
Empathize - when creating a new product, you need to keep in your mind prospective users and their needs. That’s why empathy is a starting point for any project developed using design thinking method. To find the right solution you need to put yourself into your customer’s shoes - to do this you can use a method called an empathy mapping. It enables to define and characterize your users in order to make right decisions.
Define - once you have good understanding of the people, you design for, you must define the exact problem you want to address and create a clear problem statement. But remember, it’s important not to define a problem too narrow, or too wide, so that it will leave a room for creativity and will not indicate specific solutions. A customer journey map can be really helpful at this stage of process (read our article about Customer Journey Maps here: http://demo.windu.org/put-yourself-in-your-customers-shoes-benefits-of-j ).
Ideate - it’s about creating ideas and solutions related to previously defined problem - do brainstorming, be as creative as possible, think outside the box. Generate as many ideas as possible; later on you will select the best ideas to be tested. This stage enables you to challenge and validate assumptions, and to deepen understanding of users.
Prototype - it’s time to start designing solutions which you can possibly test with users. Remember, it’s not a final product - you are making a scaled down, basic version of it, that enables to visualize and validate a solution at early stage, before you invest too much time and money. Begin with low-fidelity prototypes, test them and analyze results. Once you are done, move on to high-fidelity models.
Test - testing phase gives you opportunity to learn how users behave and feel when interacting with your product. That’s why you should ask users about their feedback, observe their reactions, and detect usability issues. This stage may confirm your initial assumptions, or can make you redefine problems and restart the process anew.
Design thinking can be used not only when it comes to create new products, but also to find innovative solutions for a certain, already existing case. Having a fresh look at the situation, you can solve even complex problems by rediscovering issues anew and getting closer to find the right solution - the more this method can provide information from different points of view, as effective design thinking process should involve even people, who have different professional experiences.
By applying design thinking effectively, you can create solutions that help companies and their brand build relationships with their customers, differentiate from competitors and develop a unique value proposition.