Design thinking is probably a term you hear every day, but have you woven it into the DNA of your business?  Do you operate under the misconception that you don't run a creative business and therefore design is merely a superficial exercise, or the chrome you add at the end of the process after the real strategy work is done?  Design thinking is a problem-solving process that uses elements from a designer's toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at new solutions.  While design thinking does not make you a "designer" it can help you find individual clarity of purpose, or lead your team through a process to define, articulate, and activate it's value proposition whether that is for your  corporate strategy or for a specific product or business unit.  A Forrester report, commissioned by IBM, and released last month, asserts this more efficient workflow yields a calculated ROI of more than 300 percent. 

Essentially if you have customers, you should practice design thinking, and yes, much like, yoga, it is a practice. Design thinking requires rigor, dedication and persistence to succeed.  Company-wide adoption of human-centered design enables outstanding user experiences and repeatable outcomes at scale. These outcomes could take the form of:

Products 

Services

Improved processes

Empowered leaders 

High-performance teams

Why now?

We live in a world with an increasing loyalty deficit, meaning customers will abandon your brand/product for an equivalent or even slightly less brand that delivers a better user experience.  From this perspective the cost of delay is high.  In our hurried lives where we are constantly re-prioritizing and making trade-offs on the fly, you do not want your brand to get caught in the cross-fire, or worse yet, fall out of the consideration or conversation completely.

How do you create a sustainable model?

After you learn the basics of design thinking it is critical to keep your finger on the pulse of the voice and point of view of your customers.  Online tools like user zoom can help you with everything from research to usability testing, but nothing beats contextual inquiry, forensic anthropology and simply having a 15 minute conversation with someone. 

If you want to delve deeper into customer motivations, the Kano model for product development and customer satisfaction classifies customer preferences into five categories.  Developed in Japan by Professor Noriaki Kano, you can use the voice of the customer to define the nuances between: 

Satisfying basic needs

Satisfying performance needs

Satisfying excitement needs

With all of this emphasis on design in corporate culture a new role is hitting the job boards which is design ops, like DevOps, this helps operationalize design throughout an organization so it is not an experience relegated to the ivory tower, but an inclusive and persistent method that permeates the company culture.  

For some, I may be preaching to the choir, and design may already be woven into the tapestry of your every day.  Others may require a new lunchtime ritual like Thing from the Future which works the imagination to create alternative futures or provocative north star concepts.  Make a promise to talk to your customers and play; your next brainchild could very well transform their experience with you and your brand.

Published on: Mar 23, 2018
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