Why and how design thinking, connects creativity and innovation

Innovita provides business transformation from a creative mindset.

That our world is changing faster and faster, and thus organizations must adapt more quickly to it, is nothing new. The Covid-19 crisis made this abundantly clear, in an extreme way. Quite a few companies today are introduced to "design thinking," a pattern of thinking that lets them look at innovation in a creative way.

Design thinking, a creative way to look at innovation

To respond to a volatile and unpredictable market, organizations must constantly test their strategy against reality in order to make immediate adjustments. Design thinking is a pattern of thinking to innovate, iteratively seeking a balance between the needs of stakeholders, technical capabilities and the economically viable, in collaboration with all stakeholders. 

Application

Consequently, it is applicable not only for developing products, but also for designing services, reorienting processes, developing new organizational models and strategies. You can work with it within any organization, large or small, and both for simple and complex challenges.

Not a tool, but a mindset

Design thinking teaches you to think and act differently. So it is not a tool, but a mindset that makes you look at innovation in a creative way and with an open mind. The model below is a guide to facilitate the process. 

How does design thinking work: 5 concrete steps

We are not talking about a linear process that pins you down in time. You can interrupt the step-by-step plan at any time and return to an earlier phase. If it turns out that your solution does not meet the needs of your 'customer', you can quickly make adjustments by observing new target groups. In order to provide structure and facilitate the anchoring of an innovative mindset, we use five different phases.

  1. Empathy and observation

Get empathy with your customers/employees. Bring your target groups to life by giving them an identity (persona) and identifying their needs and perceptions. If you have multiple audiences, create multiple personas. 

  1. Define the issue/problem/need

This phase involves a thorough analysis of the information from phase 1. Put your persona at the center of defining the need to have the perfect starting point for your innovation journey. Formulate this need as an open question, e.g. "how do we ensure that "Linda" (persona representing suppliers of product X) has a unique experience so that she can recommend us as a top supplier of product X.

  1. Brainstorm

Brainstorming happens in 2 stages: first divergence, then convergence.

In the divergent phase, it is important to generate as many ideas as possible. One rule of thumb: there are no bad ideas.

In the converging phase, you go from a multitude of ideas to a few ideas that you develop further. 

  1. Prototype

A prototype is a translation of your solution into a simplified model/concept. The purpose of this phase is to develop a test version that you present to your target audience. A prototype need not be expensive to develop. It is a temporary thing, and depending on the complexity of the final product, it may not be reused. If you have an online store and want to provide customers with a better browsing experience, you can develop this in a prototype (mock-up) first, so your customer has a tangible thing to test.

  1. Test

The best way to test is to observe how the prototype is perceived. By putting the prototype in the hands of your target audience and having them actively engage with it, you'll quickly notice how to adjust your idea. Even at this stage, new needs may come to light and known needs become clearer. All this leads to new iterations, until we are sure that the solution offered does meet the employee's needs.

What makes design thinking a success?

Employee is central

When we put ourselves in the employee's shoes, we quickly discover where and why frustrations arise. By observing the employees, we can identify their needs.

Co-creation

Alone you go faster, in team you go further. To arrive at the best solutions, you work together in multidisciplinary teams, breaking down organizational silos. This approach ensures that each issue is approached broadly and from different angles. 

Tangible

Observing how employees interact with a tangible prototype is far more instructive than endless discussions of abstract issues.

Iterative

Iterations in your process allow for advancing insight, and by returning to your steps you achieve better results that are more closely aligned with the expressed needs.

Holistic

Using a holistic approach ensures that innovation is approached from different angles. Innovation is not done from an ivory tower, but is an inclusive process where everyone starts thinking about innovation from their discipline.

In short, what makes design thinking so powerful is the human side of the story. So time to integrate these new insights into your story and set a new course, together with your customers and your employees.

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Food for thought

Innovita: new life for your business

The world turns at lightning speed today, many entrepreneurs feel like they are out of step and being passed by.
Source: Fokus (Knack)