3 Steps to Ensure Success With Design Thinking
In order to achieve successful product design thinking, take a look at these three tips from an MIT-based expert.
First, the approach was used for the design of physical objects, then other products, and now the power of design thinking is being applied to help solve complex challenges of any kind, across a wide variety of industries. Design Thinking is indispensable in today's business and technology world, but unfortunately, there's no guarantee those who use the approach will automatically succeed and become innovators.
Blade Kotelly is on the faculty of MIT and has taught courses on design thinking to both undergraduates and industry leaders for years. His consulting services have helped top brands to innovate radically on their product and services. I spoke with him about some of the common mistakes people and organizations make when trying to use Design Thinking.
Here are some of the key reasons why he says Design Thinking projects can fail, and what steps professionals can take to help ensure success within their organization.
Understand What Design Thinking Really Is (And Isn't!)
Despite its popularity, the fact is that most people don't really know what Design Thinking is. They view it as some magical mindset that automatically leads to breakthrough products and services. But it's not. Design Thinking is actually a structured creative process: a method or framework for approaching problems in a way that ensures the product or service being created ultimately addresses a core human need. In other words, a technique for finding the best possible user experience. And not all techniques are created equally.
Choose a Proven Methodology
Success with Design Thinking requires more than just being able to see the world through the eyes and hearts of consumers, but of all stakeholders involved. Innovation is more likely to occur when you explore problems from a variety of different perspectives. For example, an engineer might design a new air conditioner with both the homeowner and the repair teams in mind — so that the A/C it is not only effective and easy to use, but also inexpensive to repair, etc.
“Lots of organizations try to implement 'Design Thinking,' but are surprised when they don't see the results and benefits they expected. Failure to consider the various stakeholders is one of the top reasons why Design Thinking doesn't work. You need to apply a proven methodology, and that methodology must include brainstorming the problem from a number of different vantage points,” says Kotelly.
Flip the Equation
When it comes to Design Thinking, engineers and designers often spend the majority of their time prototyping and testing/validating their solutions. That's a mistake, according to Kotelly. He says the difference between incremental and radical innovation can usually be traced back to the amount of time spent doing research and analysis.
They come up with a lot of ideas that they then prototype and validate with market research. The playbook reads: research, design, test, and repeat.
Even though these initial information-gathering steps have very little visible output, they are perhaps the most critical steps when it comes to innovation because they enable people and organizations to develop a deeper understanding of the core problem they are trying to solve. He describes it as finding the “Experience Centerline” – which ensures the product or service being created ultimately addresses a core human need. It's about understanding the purpose and motivation of products. This, in turn, brings focus and clarity to the work being done.
Learn the Science, Practice the Art
Design Thinking is indeed both a science and an art. Once you learn the right technique, the next step is to practice and perfect the approach. Register for Mastering Innovation & Design-Thinking for even more information. The course is unique in that allows professionals to practice Design Thinking first hand using Kotelly's 10-step design process and a 3-step vision creation and communication process in an interactive class setting. The course is scheduled to run in July 2019.