Design Thinking: 5 steps to Innovation in Problem Solving
As Albert Einstein said:
If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the issue and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.Albert Einstein
The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be a matter of mathematical or experimental competence. Design thinking is a problem-solving method applicable to companies looking for new solutions to evolve their products or services.
The design thinking process is divided into five fundamental steps used by all those who want to Innovation in Problem Solving and improve their customers’ experience.
Innovation in Problem Solving steps:
1) Empathize with the Users for Innovation in Problem Solving
The first phase of the design thinking process is to develop empathy for users.
Concretely, it is a question of better understanding their situation, motivations, and the worries they may encounter by observing them and exchanging them with them. To do this, there are some good practices to know:
Putting yourself in the shoes of a beginner: by getting rid of your knowledge, prejudices, and experience in a specific field, it is easier to understand;
Ask yourself the following three questions: “What? How? What for? When observing a person’s interaction with a product, service, or other, one should take note of what they do (“what”), how they do it (“how”) and finally their supposed motivations and emotions (“why”).
Ask users directly: in innovation and problem resolution, observation cannot give all the keys. An interview allows you to go deeper and direct the questions to the topics that interest you particularly.
2) Defining the Problem for Innovation in Problem Solving
The information collected during the first step is now a question of synthesis and defining the primary problem(s) that you have identified.
Based on the problems identified, ask yourself the right questions: “How could we meet this expectation?”, “What could improve our products or services in light of these discoveries?” …
This is the first step towards step 3, which will allow you to expand your offer, develop new features for your products, improve your services to provide solutions.
The definition mode is when we use and synthesize the results of the empathy step by translating them into needs, desires, and discoveries. In this mode, we also define a specific and significant challenge to be addressed. It is a mode of convergence rather than divergence. The goal of definition mode is to arrive at an actionable statement of the problem by building a deep understanding of users/customers and the design perimeter.
It is also an opportunity to introduce the innovative point of view brought by the designer. This point of view should be a proposal, an intention, which helps guide the rest of the work. It focuses on specific users who have expressed ideas and needs discovered during empathy mode.
Understanding the significant challenge to be addressed and identifying exploitable findings to be implemented in the design work are fundamental points for creating a good solution.
Why use definition mode in Innovation in Problem Solving?
The definition mode is essential for the Design Thinking process because it allows you to pose the problem you want to answer explicitly. For the problem to be fully addressed, the definition of the problem must be genuinely “generative of solutions.” The first step is to create a particular and compelling statement of the problem. This will allow it to be used as a springboard to generate the solution.
More than just a definition of the problem to be worked on, the point of view becomes a unique vision of the design formed by the discoveries in empathy mode.
A good point of view:
• Provides an angle of view and frames the problem.
• Inspires the team.
• Provides a benchmark for evaluating competing ideas.
• Allows the team to make decisions independently in parallel.
• Stimulates ideas by suggesting questions “How could we ____?”.
• Captures people’s hearts and minds.
• Allows you to revisit and reformulate as you learn through practice.
• Guides innovation efforts.
3) Idea generation for Innovation in Problem Solving
Once you’ve gathered a large amount of information and leveraged it to define the problems your customers are having, it’s high time to generate ideas.
The goal: to find new solutions to solve these problems. There are many methods of idea generation, including:
Brainstorming: this well-known technique involves bringing together a group of people who will have to share all their ideas on a given subject. However, be sure to respect some basic rules: do not judge, bounce back on the opinions of others (always without judgment), seek to accumulate as many ideas as possible;
The worst possible idea is a kind of counter-footing to brainstorming, which consists of expressing only bad ideas. This is an excellent way to push participants to “let go” and not self-censor: since the goal is to give the worst possible idea, no one will be ashamed to express themselves;
Mind mapping: this technique builds a schema that represents and connects problems, solutions, and diverse ideas. There is also mind mapping software to make your job easier.
Note that there are many other methods of creativity, this being just an overview.
4) The Prototype for Innovation in Problem Solving
Now that you’ve stocked up on ideas to innovate and improve your product, it’s time to bring them to life with the prototype phase.
In reality, it is not a question of designing a prototype but of prototypes, which make it possible to experiment with different solutions and detect those that are best able to solve a problem.
They can thus be accepted, adjusted, and improved or definitively rejected according to their relevance.
5) The Test for Innovation in Problem Solving
We can now test the ” final product ” using the best solutions identified in step 4; we can now test the “final product.”
The opportunity to see the emergence of previously unidentified problems or revise one’s understanding of the user. Because, contrary to what one might assume, design thinking is not a linear process.
Design thinking is not a linear process
Indeed, as illustrated by this diagram by interaction design foundation, the design thinking process includes “flashbacks,” especially from the test phase, which can push to review the definition of the problem, generate new ideas or learn more about users.
Design thinking: a path to solving complex problems
Innovation and digital transformation are top priorities. Yet, as you may have read in the previous blog post in this series, the path between the dream of a unique customer experience and the achievement of a total digital transformation is fraught with pitfalls. Research shows that more than 80% of digital transformation initiatives fail or miss their goal. This is mainly because organizations do not always know where to start, and the approach is often not adapted to the end goal.
Find the shoe to your feet
The impact of the approach on the progress of a project should not be underestimated. The success of a digital transformation depends enormously on the adequacy of the methodology followed. Before you start, it is advisable to make some choices in terms of approach. These will determine the course of the journey and create a framework for all the activities necessary to achieve the objectives. The possibilities are numerous, and each option comes with its specific processes, principles, and rules, as well as the advantages and disadvantages associated with them.
It is essential to remember that there is no perfect “ready-to-wear” methodology. Each project deserves its approach. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to find the method that will best match the objectives, the resources available, and especially the individuals in the organization.
It is virtually impossible to keep abreast of all existing approaches. The methodologies themselves are regularly adapted to keep up with the rapid evolution of the digital world. The big question, then, is how to get started. Please don’t get discouraged in advance, though; different methodologies have more than proven their usefulness and are therefore a pretty good place to start.
For any complex problem, design thinking is your ally
Innovation plays an increasingly important role in our society, forcing companies to evolve with it, even to anticipate new and future trends. This can lead to a plethora of new ideas that, in one way or another, need to be integrated into the organization’s strategy and find their way to the customer. In such a case, considering design thinking as a support method is probably a good idea.
Design thinking is a method that can help organizations find solutions to the most complex problems. It removes the barriers that often prevent companies from seeing the starting point for an answer because the primary goal of design thinking is not to achieve a final result but to find a starting point.
The method addresses the innovation challenges of a company in a very intuitive way, with customers’ needs as the primary concern. Technical feasibility, profitability, and social context add to this perspective, resulting in better products, services, or processes.
Co-creation as a driving force for Innovation in Problem Solving
Innovating and improving the customer experience is a joint effort. Fortunately, co-creation is one of the basic principles of design thinking! The collaboration between stakeholders, technical architects, developers, designers, and clients is incredibly inspiring and provides a holistic view of all aspects of the challenge. Bringing together the creative energy and ideas of a heterogeneous group often leads to the most innovative solutions and can only benefit the growth of an organization.
The process aims at improvement through the development of ideas and obtaining information, in a positive way, about the unmet, unexpressed, or even unconscious needs of end-users. Each step helps define the right goals, helps project teams make the right decisions, and gives organizations a vision of the way forward.
for Innovation in Problem Solving: All in the same direction
This approach has several other advantages. In co-creation, bringing together the right people, different disciplines, and relevant expertise will significantly reduce decision-making time. In addition, it will put the entire organization on the same page. Everyone is aware of the project from day one and the objectives pursued are expected, which will also increase the involvement of stakeholders in the organization.
The approach probably also has less ideal aspects, but the strength of the concept is that it is easy to adapt. Working in co-creation often requires an effort on the people concerned. You have to be creative, which sometimes goes beyond the comfort zone of some. It also takes time, and that time doesn’t always seem to be available. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: the efficiency and quality of the result are well worth it.
While it remains true that 80% of digital transformation initiatives fail, the 20% success rate is much easier to achieve with the correct methodology. Design thinking is only one approach among others, but it can help remove obstacles on the path between dream and realization.