Why is it that huge corporations get beaten by kids in garages? Are they trying to replicate whats been done already – NO, they are trying to invent the future! These are the sentiments of customer experience director for TBWA Melbourne, Billy Loizou, who explores the framework for innovation in this opinion piece.
Every so often I come across buzz words that are being used in the industry – my philosophy is if I hear it more then three times from notable sources then I best become an expert on it and ride the wave. The most recent has been ‘Design Thinking’, a term which has been developed, re-ignited and brought to life by design and innovation consulting firm IDEO.
When companies set strategy, they often stumble. Either they collect a lot of old, redundant data or they make risky bets based on instinct – Design Thinking shifts the focus to human behaviour. Design Thinking attempts to inspire the essential element of creativity, the ability to take an abstract idea and create something with it.
It’s based upon the fundamental belief that an unexecuted idea, one that is never realised, is a worthless proposition and that doing is equally as valuable as thinking.
- Empathy: Understanding is the first phase of the design thinking process. During this phase immerse yourself in learning. Talk to experts and conduct research. The goal is to develop background knowledge through these experiences. Use the information as a springboard to begin to address the challenges.
- Define: It’s time to become keen people watchers in the observation phase of the design thinking process. Watch how people behave and interact and observe physical spaces and places. Talk to people about what they are doing, ask questions and reflect on what they see. Become aware of peoples’ needs and developing insights. The phrase “How might we….” is often used to define a point of view: user + need + insight.
- Ideate: Brainstorm a myriad of ideas. No idea is too far-fetched and no one’s ideas are rejected. Ideating is all about creativity and fun. In the ideation phase, quantity is encouraged. Generate a hundred ideas in a single session – Give yourself the freedom to think crazy and not be constrained by what exists. Become a silly, savvy, risk taker, wishful thinker and dreamer of the impossible…and the possible.
- Prototype: Prototyping is a rough and rapid portion of the design process. A prototype can be a sketch, model, or a cardboard box. It is a way to convey an idea quickly. Learn that it is better to fail early and often as you create prototypes.
- Test: Testing is part of an iterative process that provides you with feedback. The purpose of testing is to learn what works and what doesn’t, and then iterate. This means going back to your prototype and modifying it based on feedback. Testing ensures that you learn what works and what doesn’t work for your users.
In the past, design has often occurred or been the last step in the development process and focused primarily on making new products aesthetically pleasing. Design has mostly been interpreted as the way something looks i.e layout, font, colour, iconography.
Today, as the innovation’s terrain expands to encompass human-centred processes and services as well as products, companies are asking designers to create ideas rather than to simply dress them up.
Design Thinking will help ‘invent a future’ however the process of testing your idea, refining your product and then bringing it to life with a scalable business model is the next challenge. Good luck!