Designed thinking can be leveraged to create better and more empathy-based organizations.
Empathy, along with self-awareness are the most important cornerstones of emotional intelligence, and foundational to design thinking.
Through empathy, we can design products, and services for people. Ultimately creating systems that are user-centric and humane.
The essential elements of design thinking are defining issues, ideation, prototyping, testing, and iterating. However, it may vary as to how one is applying them.
● Researching and defining issues: It is user-centric research that includes techniques like ethnographic analysis to understand people’s needs and desires. It aims to empathize with people for which all the designing is intended to serve.
● Ideating: In this phase, we aim to generate several ideas to represent potential solutions. Ideation is done using tools like mind-mapping, sketching, and brainstorming to create possible concepts.
● Prototyping, Testing, and Iterating: The iteration process tests and refines the ideas generated during the ideation phase, while prototyping helps push the process of delivering a tangible outcome forward. Through prototypes, the designs are demonstrated and validated from the ideation phase. To evaluate the design concept correctly, it is crucial to prototype it in the environment in which it is designed to function. The prototype aims to convey the experience flow.
The key to properly unlock all these steps is to focus on people with deep empathy. The old saying “put yourself in the shoes of others” really comes to life and is the only true way to develop people-centric designs.
Implementing Design Thinking in Organizations
Examining consumer’s need before beginning to create services or product is the foundational research piece of design thinking that informs us on what problems or issues we are seeking to solve. This allows you to not waste your time consumed in solving things that are otherwise irrelevant in value. As you understand people and the problem that need to be resolved you naturally follow actionable steps to design a modern people-centric organization.
Focus on the Issues
As an organization you might fail to solve problems effectively if you do not initially identify the issues impacting the people that make up the organization. You can specify issues with the following steps:
● Understand: You must identify and understand people’s needs by putting yourself in their shoes. You might also visualize and think through their way of seeing things to develop an effective solution.
“Feeling and seeing things from other people’s perspectives, is applying empathy to design thinking.”
● Ask Questions: Why do the issues exist? How did they arise in the first place? Who is impacted? Why and how did the past attempts to solve the issues lack in results?
● Collaborate: It is vital to collaborate with everyone to develop practical solutions to ongoing problems. This engagement must not be confine to just your team. The more you expand your perspective, the greater your ability to understand the complexities and importance for resolutions.
● Stay Unbiased: It is crucial to remain open-minded and accept ideas that others have to offer. This is because the ideas you may come across might be something that you weren’t expecting. You cannot rely on assumption, experience, gut feelings, or intuition.
“Design Thinking requires you to collect information as data that needs to be analyzed and studied, before making it actionable.”
Develop Design Thinking Skills on Your Team
Generally, the ideation phase is handled by project managers or engineers. However, design thinking is the process of asking questions, understanding, validating, testing, and iterating which is best done with more people in your organization.
You can follow the following steps to develop design thinking skills in your team:
● Practice the Mindset: You can start implementing the design thinking mindset across many roles whenever possible. For instance, if you have a new employee or client, you can test a new approach to understand them by getting feedback from a survey. At the same time, you must be open to new outcomes. In otherwards don’t do surveys with a narrative bult in, rather develop your narrative from the learnings.
● Encourage Interests in Design Thinking: You might have members of your organization who want to expand their skills in design thinking; ensure you take care to nurture their interests and foster experimentation. You might reimburse the costs for design thinking classes, to encourage expanded interest as well.
Embrace Constant Feedback
Perfection is not the goal of design thinking, instead it is about finding the best answer. Finding the best answer isn’t easy. Continuous feedback is essential to establish the best solution. Implementing design thinking is a constant process, and it is important to continuously iterate on completed missions and strive to better the outcomes or services.
“Without ongoing feedback, there is no successful implementation of design thinking.”
Here are the tips for implementing a feedback loop:
● Test and Iterate: To bring out the best solution, you might have to test your assumptions and iterate as much as possible, and you might come up with something that you might have never thought of otherwise.
● Feedback Sessions: Feedback prevents the same mistakes from occurring again while providing a safe space to innovate. Embracing continuous feedback will help you develop the best solution for the consumers.
● Accept Failure: It is important to accept failure by viewing it as a learning process. Failure is part of design thinking. You must discuss why it failed and the reasons for the failure. Discussing collaboratively with your team will bring closure to the approach, and you will come to find the best solution.
“Empathy isn’t just a tool, it is your partner in designing organizations that openly discuss challenges and seek to solve them through mutual understanding, and collaboration.”
Design thinking an open-minded culture based on exploration and experimentation is designing an empathy-based organization. This kind of organization will help employees heighten their curiosity, enthusiasm, need to explore, to think big and leverage collective strengths.
An organization that sets design thinking as the core element for driving progress, is setting up for a culture of innovation, happy and enthusiastic employees, longevity, and success.