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Design Thinking As a Core Driver for Innovation & Value Creation

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

The COVID 19 pandemic has put companies under a great deal of pressure and created big challenges of product design, experience design, and service design problems which call, desperately, for a solution. In this case, design thinking can help.

Most companies are optimized to solve a particular problem and find the problem worth solving. Then Design thinking has become a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It combines what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. Therefore, design thinking can be used to solve practical problems that are not conventionally related to design.

In this same perspective, it is very important to remember that in 2008, Tim Brown wrote a pioneering article about design thinking in Harvard Business Review. His design thinking definition is: “It is a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity”.

Design thinking is transforming the way leading companies create value. The focus of innovation has shifted from being engineering-driven to design-driven, from product-centric to customer-centric, and from marketing-focused to user-experience-focused. For an increasing number of CEOs, design thinking is at the core of effective strategy development and organizational change.

Design thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers or users through a series of prototypes to learn, test, and refine concepts. Design thinkers rely on customer insights gained from real-world experiments, not just historical data or market research. It works because it is a collaborative co-creative process grounded in engagement, dialogue, and learning. When you involve customers and/or stakeholders in the process of defining the problem and in developing solutions, you have a much better chance of gaining commitment for change and getting support for your innovation.

7 Ways to Make Design Thinking Part of the Innovation (1) :

  1. Begin at the beginning. Involve design thinkers at the very start of the innovation process, before any direction has been set. Design thinking will help you explore more ideas more quickly than you could otherwise.

  2. Take a human-centered approach. Along with business and technology considerations, innovation should factor in human behavior, needs, and preferences. Human-centered design thinking—especially when it includes research based on direct observation—will capture unexpected insights and produce innovation that reflects what consumers want more precisely.

  3. Try early and often. Create an expectation of rapid experimentation and prototyping. Encourage teams to create a prototype in the first week of a project. Measure progress with a metric such as average time to first proto- type or number of consumers exposed to prototypes during the life of a program.

  4. Seek outside help. Expand the innovation ecosystem by looking for opportunities to co- create with customers and consumers.

  5. Blend big and small projects. Manage a portfolio of innovation that stretches from shorter-term incremental ideas to longer-term revolutionary ones. Expect business units to drive and fund incremental innovation but be willing to initiate revolutionary innovation from the top.

  6. Budget to the pace of innovation. Design thinking happens quickly, yet the route to market can be unpredictable. Don’t constrain the pace at which you can innovate by relying on cumbersome budgeting cycles. Be pre- pared to rethink your funding approach as projects proceed and teams learn more about opportunities.

  7. Find talent any way you can. Look to hire from interdisciplinary programs. People with more-conventional design backgrounds can push solutions far beyond your expectations. You may even be able to train non-designers with the right attributes to excel in design-thinking roles.

By Mohamed Ait Benzaiter

Deputy General Manager, Menara Holding

(1) Source: Design Thinking by Tim Brown, Harvard Business Review

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