What is Design Thinking?
Briefly summarized, it’s a form of solution-based thinking that starts with a specific goal and goes through multiple stages of iteration—divergence and convergence—to solve complex problems in a human-centered way. Design thinking typically includes one or more of the following approaches: observation, interviews, brainstorming, and prototyping
Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, gives this definition of design thinking’s role within business: “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”.[i]
What Consumer Research Innovation Challenges Can Design Thinking Help Solve?
When leveraging consumer research for designing innovative new products, services or experiences, here are a few common issues that researchers face:
How Can I Apply Design Thinking to Innovation-Focused Consumer Research?
Here are some tips for applying Design Thinking to Consumer Insights work in identifying new innovation opportunities and developing and optimizing innovative products & services.
Observation & Interviews
These approaches help build gut-level consumer understanding to allow the team to design solutions that will delight consumers, without asking consumers to tell us the future.
Brainstorming, Co-creation & Prototyping
These approaches help avoid the trap of waiting for a final or “perfect” product before engaging consumers as well as helping consumers react to something that does not yet exist.
Problem Definition & Iteration
These approaches can help to both design the most effective consumer research up front and give the flexibility to learn over time, without needing to have everything figured out before ever talking with a consumer.
Consumer research in Front-End of Innovation brings certain challenges, but through the application of key Design Thinking principles, researchers can approach the learning process differently to not only help overcome these difficulties, but actually build stronger, more compelling solutions for the consumers they serve.
References & Recommended Reading:
i Brown, Tim. "Design Thinking." Harvard Business Review (June 2008): 85-92. Web.
Brown, Tim, and Barry Kātz. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: Harper Business, 2009. Print.
Lockwood, Thomas. Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience and Brand Value. New York, NY: Allworth, 2009. Print.
IDEO website http://www.ideo.com
Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Sanford (d school, Sanford University) http://www.dschool.sanford.edu
Sarah Faulkner, Principal, Faulkner Strategic Consulting