Great design has that “wow” factor that makes products more desirable and services more appealing to users. The 1969 seminal text on design methods by Herbert Simon – “The Sciences of the Artificial” outlined one of the first formal models of what we now know as a “Design Thinking”.
Simon’s model consists of seven stages and was influential in shaping the most widely used Design Thinking process models today.
Numerous variants of the Design Thinking process exist, with different numbers of stages, but they are all based on the same principles featured in Simon’s 1969 model.
“Engineering, medicine, business, architecture, and painting are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent…not how things are but how they might be”
Herbert Alexander Simon, Nobel Prize laureate (1969)
Design thinking can be described as a creative approach to the resolution of problems. Its a form of solution-based thinking with a goal of producing a constructive future result.
Typically with lean approach to product development we begin by stating a hypothesis, create a prototype, gather feedback – then iterate toward a solution. With design thinking differs from that by including consideration of the emotional content of the situation.
Lets say we build an MVP of our new app; we look at our analytics data, hunt for observable “facts”. In contrast – design thinking feedback also considers our users emotional state regarding the problem and their stated and latent needs.
A lean product development method with emphasis on functionality, emotional elements are often ignored. Using design thinking your team should focus on the problem from a consumers perspective.
A quick survey to understand the pain points of your audience could be one way of discovering what your product is lacking. Or ask a group of users to use the app in their everyday lives and deliver their feedback.
The old way is that you come up with a new product idea and then try to sell it to customers. Design thinking is looking at a problem from the inside out, rather than outside in. Its about thinking from your users perspective what are their needs? Imagine you have an ecommerce store. Cart abandonment rates are high. You meet with your team to discuss likely causes, study the analytics and decide on a short list of solutions.
You start to push possible solutions out to users, in an iterative manner. Unfortunately none of your solutions solve the problem. The reason? You didn’t involve your users in the process. That’s the big issue design thinking addresses.
Design thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging our users through a series of prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts. Design thinkers utilise customer insights gained from real-world experiments, not just data and market research.
“Design thinking can be described as 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.”
– Tim Brown CEO, IDEO
Human-centered innovation begins with developing an understanding of users unmet or unarticulated needs. The most secure source of new ideas that have true competitive advantage, and therefore, higher margins, are customers unarticulated needs. You must develop “Customer intimacy” — a deep knowledge of your customers and their problems helps you to uncover those needs.
Product Management is often an analytical role. Product managers spend most of their time pouring over data in an attempt to drive new products forward. Unfortunately, in our endeavour to stay lean and decrease our time to market, a purely analytical approach often doesn’t cut it. An analytical approach combined with a creative approach that focuses on customer needs will deliver greater success.
Imagine you are developing a new product; You need to either…
Better an existing experience
Create a new experience altogether
Research and analysis will help you make sense of the world as it is today. Design thinking brings in a more empathetic, flexible and iterative approach to product development – to imagine the world differently tomorrow.
A great product manager combines of domain knowledge, imagination and conviction. These 3 characteristics are similar to the 3 dimensions of design thinking: desirability, feasibility and viability.
The interface of your product that taps into a user want or need.
Understanding of the product to market fit
Understanding the economic value of your product and the reason to do something.
Embracing these skills combined with Design Thinking can help us to become better rounded product managers.
IBM, like many ‘old school’ companies, is battling against the relentless advance of digital technology. For these organisations, the key question is: Can we grow new business opportunities faster than the old business is declining?
IBM has hired more than 1,000 professional designers, and much of its management work force is being trained in design thinking. “I’ve never seen any company implement it on the scale of IBM,” said William Burnett, executive director of the design program at Stanford University. “To try to change a culture in a company that size is a daunting task.”