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My Experience with SAP Design Thinking Workshop

Couple of weeks back  I got a chance to attend SAP workshop on Design thinking(DT) in Bangalore, India. I was floored by the DT  mindset  and the power it brings along for Innovation , providing customer delight not to forget it saves training costs!.“Design thinking” as a mindset has been there in IT Industry for quite some time now, it has become new buzzword @SAP recently.Simply put it means redefining the user experience(UX) by keeping the User (human) at the center of application design and keeping the UI  as simple as possible.SAP Fiori which is gaining huge popularity for enhanced user experience is based on DT principals.I have put my learning in this blog.Hope you will find it useful and DT mindset will help you innovate better!.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” —Tim Brown, president and CEO IDEO

(Photo source :Ideo_ted1_Tim)


Traditionally, design has been treated as a downstream step in the development process—the point where designers, who have played no earlier role in the actual work of innovation, come along and put a beautiful wrapper around the idea. Increased competition, high training cost and so called wicked problems has led to increased practice of Design Thinking mindset.(photo source :


Until recently ‘active’ user role was majorly required at the time of UAT (User Assisted Testing).But by this time the development phase was already completed and lot of rework was required because of misunderstood problems, to fix the design issues. In the DT methodology more effort and time is spent on clearly “defining and understanding” the problem in multiple iterations (as seen in below diagram), directly with the end user rather than to solve the problem.


Now I will explain each of the “Design Thinking” steps in detail:

Understand : Get an initial understanding of the problem

Understand with a sense of Empathy to the User

Place yourself in user shoes

Talk Less , Listen more

Observe : View users and their behaviors from their context

Watch what a typical user day looks like

Repeating behavior pattern ,Interactions

Take Pictures, Collect artifacts

Write down your observations

Goal is to get to know your user more than they know of themselves

Story telling :Story is created with user being at the center .This helps us to improve the connection and identify with the subject. Synthesize the ideas from different user researchers

Persona : Create the profile of the user which includes his goal, Job responsibility, Role, Pain points, Competencies, Age, Marital status, Ethnicity, Interaction points


Ideate: This mode transitions from problem space to solution space

With needs identified generate as many solution ideas as possible

Step beyond obvious solutions

Do not judge ideas

Uncover unexpected areas for exploration

During brainstorming, have one conversation at a time

Log your brainstorming session

Encourage wild Ideas

Support and build on others Ideas

Stay focused on goal

Prototype :To create “concrete” embodiment of a solution concept  that can be used to test. Follows the principal of “Fail early fail often”. Build to think and not vice versa.

Generally of following types:

  Role Playing

  Simple HTML application

  Post-it notes

  Objects/Physical prototype

Story boarding

Test : Used to “refine” our solutions and make them better ,typically done with the user . Iterate the process based on learnings and findings.

SAP Fiori : Made to improve the SAP UX by keeping things simple (photo source :


SAP Fiori : Each tile represents separate App which can be grouped as per user need (photo source :


Everyone, you agree or not is a service provider (photo source :

Good UX is the key differentiator in this competitive market

Reduces support costs, greater customer satisfaction and loyalty


Please visit the below Ted talk to understand the Impact of DT  in the real world :

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  • SAP is using Design Thinking in making products and also selling products. HANA is sold now a days using DT mindset  so as to provided customers what really they need so as to be cost effective. As days pass by you will hear more and more of Design Thinking from your customers and SAP.

    Most Important  please do not miss the video link mentioned which I have put . The video will kind of summarize all DT steps I have tried to explain and this Video has inspired me to do more research and take DT to more and more folks . Also I request you to please leave your comments so that I can improve. Much appreciate your inputs in advance and Happy Innovating!!.

  • Hi Balwant,

    Thanks for a wonderful explanation to Design Thinking. I was intrigued by design thinking for quite some time now. This explains concisely what it is and it is simply awesome.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Tejas Bisen