What is the design thinking?

Design thinking solves our problems innovatively and creatively, whether these problems are related to businesses or our lives. Its importance can be judged by the fact that some of the world’s leading brands, such as Samsung, Google, and Apple, have rapidly adopted the Design Thinking Approach.

Why you should adopt a design thinking approach?

The reason behind adopting the design thinking approach is that a good organization always looks for efficiency in the form of saved time, resources, or both. This need for efficiency is why the services of a designer are often required when developing a new product.

You want to end up with a quality product without spending too much money and time developing it, then design designing can provide you with an alternative.

How to use design thinking for process improvement?

Design thinking helps you to move forward with complex and challenging topics. If you have no knowledge of the customer’s viewpoint on the subject or the subject is vague, it is better to turn to design thinking because a challenge is good for the design thinking process. It provides more valuable information in case of a broader topic than a narrower topic.

If you go to a customer for information but cannot provide it to you or is not interested, you can get help by thinking about the customers and market trends.

Design Thinking involves an understanding of the target users. It helps us develop empathy with the people we are designing the products or services for through careful observation. 

Design Thinking Approach

It starts with questions: what are the problem, the assumptions, and the implications. Design Thinking is beneficial in dealing with ill-defined or unknown issues. It solves these problems by re-framing them, creating many ideas through brainstorming, and prototyping and testing through a hands-on approach.

Design Thinking is also based on ongoing experimentation: prototyping, sketching, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas.

Design thinking as a concept within a design is meant to achieve the most out of a designing experience using the shortest possible time and resources.

How can I improve my Design Thinking skills?

Considering how efficient design thinking is, designers must know how to maximize the potential it holds. In this regard, there are various methods of improving an individual’s ability to implement this strategy.This allows by using skills in the field to develop a workable prototype without launching and building the complete product.

Steps to Design Thinking

I have outlined 17 Steps to improve your design thinking skills and best approach to it in 2021.

1. Astute observation

Astute observation means looking for the odds in the situation. Observation can be done by noticing what the actual circumstances are and how they are happening. The following are the three prerequisites for a clever observation:

  • It should be unbiased and free from pre-existing ideas or scripts of the situation.
  • Likwise, observers should learn inductively, making inferences from the limited information that they have.
  • Additionally, they must find patterns in complex stimuli.

2.Investment

You are investing enough time and resources in the process. Now, I know you were told that design thinking helps to reduce the number of resources spent on a project. However, this does not mean that no money will be spent at all. If the design process is to be fruitful, it should be well-funded and not rushed such that enough time is allocated to it.

To put things in other words, you must use your resources and time economically. It will help if you have quick ideas for design thinking, and you can get it by interviewing different persons related to the field. Moreover, it will be best to try not to spend too much time on it because the market needs and customers’ demands change over time.

It will result in effective and worth doing design thinking that will give the customers satisfaction by solving their problems. Additionally, spending too much time on design thinking may make people move to their ideas based on their reviews instead of focusing on the customers or users.

3. Anything is possible

Another important consideration is not to expect perfection when using this method. Despite receiving much praise, design thinking is not without its fair share of challenges. It does provide designers with a good option.

However, remember that errors can be made, and you need not limit your ability or responsibility on the notion that design thinking is perfect. It is not.

4. Aim for the best

The third is to always strive for efficiency. By now, we know that design thinking helps to reduce the amount of time taken to develop a project. However, while chasing speed, it is essential to pay attention to efficiency. Remember that the design process works best if the highest level of efficiency is reached. Therefore, never sacrifice efficiency for speed. That being said, always strive for both in all scenarios.

Focus on all the five stages of design thinking carefully.

  • First, empathize and research your user’s needs that are crucial to a human-centred design process.
  • Second, define and state their problems.
  • Third, generate ideas based on the previous findings, and you can think out of the box for this purpose.
  • Fourth, prototype and start creating solutions to the problems by producing inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the products.
  • Finally, try your solution and redefine further issues, if any.

Overall, it will help if you understand that these steps are different modes that contribute to the entire design project rather than sequential steps.

Read Also: Why And How to Stay Organised As A Designer

5.Be smart

Always look to work smart. Now, this comes without saying. Design thinking employs the designer to use creative, cognitive, and practical thinking skills to achieve the desired goal.

As a professional in this field, it is essential to know how the thing works and anticipate. As a result, one can use strategic approaches to make work easier or more efficient. Working smart is all about maximizing opportunities presented to ensure the efficiency of the final project.

6. Practice

As is the case of any skill, we all need to practice to perfect it. The same applies to design thinking. Learning it is the first step towards being able to use it in practical situations. However, being able to constantly achieve success, test yourself on your abilities as often as possible. Small projects here and there can go a long way toward sharpening your design thinking skills.

One key to a helpful practice is to have a growth mindset. It means that ability and skill come through doing the work, not through inborn talent. With this frame, failure becomes a way to learn, not proof of incompetency.

The growth mindset enables you to accomplish a complex task better than a fixed mindset based on prototypes. Moreover, with such a mindset, the task becomes more enjoyable.

A technique to develop a growth mindset is to ask yourself “How I/we might” questions that will allow you to push past constraints. Adopting HMW focus is more likely to make you creative.

7. Outcome over output

It is essential to focus your implementation of design thinking on outcomes as opposed to outputs. Yes, having an output is good. However, you want it to be able to satisfy a given role.

Developing this ability should be your primary goal and the basis for creating the output, which is in the form of a workable prototype.

8. Customer feedback

Customer feedback is also important in ensuring your ability to use design thinking is improved. It is notable that for most practice projects, you may not be able to get feedback. However, take it upon yourself to look for it from viable sources.

This ensures that you are able to gauge your performance as per a reasonable source. In situations where you are working on actual projects, make sure that you look into the customers’ feedbacks. This will help to inform your ability to implement design thinking to address a challenge.

9. Document learnings and define hypothesis

It is advantageous to define and communicate a hypothesis well in the beginning and after the analysis, because it enables you to understand the ideas from the customers.

Moreover, it is also essential to jot down what you are testing and the hypothesis of the outcome. It will help you to prove that the work was worth doing.

10. Allow all ideas

Divergent thinking and sharing wicked problems are also essential in design thinking to stimulate creativity. Insight is the base of ideas, and ideas are the solutions for the customers’ difficulties.

So if the goal is to help the customers and make their lives better, it indeed does its work. The customers’ needs and not the products bring in innovation and, in turn, creates customers.

11. Look around

The Eleventh tip is to observe the work of others around you. There is no such thing as being perfect. There is always room for learning, improving, and looking at what other UX or graphics designers in the field can be a good way of learning how to improve your design thinking process.

Even when you feel you have learned (almost) everything, you will always encounter someone who does things differently and from whom you can understand.

keep it in mind that only looking around is not enough

12. Listen to others

It is also essential to seek advice from people and ask questions about what you are doing. Improving is based on learning, and what is the best way to learn from the people who have already done it? As a designer, you should be able to observe what others are doing and question their tactics.

This then allows you to understand and learn from them. Observation alone does not tell you everything. Engage people, and you will find deeper meanings to whatever you observed initially. Collaborate with your fellow designers wherever possible. More minds bear more ideas and better opportunities to achieve efficiency.

Invite someone to help you at the synthesis stage. Pick someone you trust but also who thinks a little differently from the way you do. Share with them the stories of the people you observed or interviewed. Share interesting articles and anything of inspiration.

The help needed here is to make sense of your research so far. If you don’t invite someone to do this part, it might feel like a severe pit of an overthinker where you cannot direct yourself quickly.

Structure your time in short blocks and perhaps give yourself the false deadline of imagining you have to present all this to a client. In reality, you’re doing this project for your portfolio, so you may end up showing this work to someone.

13. Everything doesn’t work

Testing is an integral part of design thinking, and the solutions should be checked with users time and again. This means frequent testing of the answers to the problems is required to know if they are workable or not.

Remember, all solutions do not work, and some fail, and you should be willing to accept the results, whatever they may be, to improve the situation. Usually, other people also test your ideas, and in this way, they validate them.

14. Imagine from multiple perspectives

Hone your skills of imagination to pose questions and open up areas unseen before. By taking a ‘people first’ approach, design thinkers can imagine inherently desirable solutions and meet explicit or latent needs.

Good design thinkers observe the world in minute detail. They notice things that others do not and use their insights to inspire innovation.

15. Get rid of the fear of failure

Imagination is nurtured when there is no fear of rejection or failure. The design thinker can imagine future possibilities and communicate them.

Imagination works well by the challenge of having to work within limitations, by making the complicated, simple, or simply wanting to make a better experience for the end-user. Imagination is the bridge between knowledge and concept.

16. Fine-tune last

Making it perfect is essential, but at the same time, we should not spend too much time on fine-tuning. Remember that design thinking is to save on time and solve the business problem that adds value.

If you can keep it, then do so. Fine details, which tend to take too much time to include, can be pushed to last, thus building a better foundation for them. This also allows you to get more work done.

17.Maximize each learning experience

The last tip is to iterate every learning opportunity as many times as possible. Like we noticed earlier, learning is the best way to improve your ability to use design thinking. Therefore, it makes no sense to rush it. Instead, take every step with attentiveness, and make sure you get everything before moving on.

Make sure everything you learn in the future adds value to what you know and not recap what you did not understand. Now, I do not mean that it is not good to revisit things. I’m only implying that you should maximize each learning experience.

Design thinking isn’t a process but rather a mindset or set of ways of being.

Be open to the change and try to explore the user feedback. I have outlined some of the Steps that will help you to improve your design thinking process. It is up to you to make an effort to engage yourself in this process, and there is no right or wrong way. Please let me know in the comments below.