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Part 1: Why You Should be Excited About Design Thinking

Today, we live in a complex world that is full of constraints and deals with continuously shifting trends. When it comes to solving ill-defined problems we are required to think in new ways all the time.

Design Thinking is the new way of envisioning technology. It is a thoughtful problem solving framework that refers to a set of tools and mindsets to solve human-centric problems.

Design Thinking is all about solving problems under tight constraints. Unlike the traditional analytical approaches of solving problems that greatly rely on past experiences, Design Thinking is about embracing ambiguity with a learning mindset and by understanding the emotional journey of users.

Get the Gist of Design Thinking - Part 1

Design thinking for technology innovation:

Technology innovation improves our lives in two ways.

  • First, it provides us cost sides of benefits by eliminating inefficiencies. In this case, the goal of technology is to “hit upon the exact problem” we are trying to solve. However, it is quite common to confuse a problem with its symptoms. Take an example of a mobile app implementation aimed to solve business complexities. The traditional linear framework wouldn’t work here as the problem statement is broad and  involves improving the end to end experience of users. The Design Thinking framework utilizes a journey mapping approach to find the exact problem in a shorter time-frame, incorporates iterative prototypes and user feedback to reach the ultimate solution.
  • Second, technology provides us opportunities to create new business lines by introducing new features in our products or by capitalizing on new market trends. In this case, the goal of the technology is to create something that doesn’t exist yet. The traditional approach of requirement gathering would not work here. Take an example of Big Data implementations. In order to get the true ROI of such project, it’s important to understand the user emotions and future trends that impact this data. The Design Thinking framework  allows for envisioning what impacts the emerging behaviours and new market trends.

Empathy, visualization, co-creation and rapid prototyping are key workings of design thinking. It is a style of thinking that combines empathy for the users, imagination in the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of ideas and a rapid experimental approach to assessing the quality of solutions.

Design Thinking is suitable if:

  • The problem is human-centered and a deep understanding of the users or customers is involved
  • There are many human beings involved in the problem or the solution
  • The problem is not clearly understood and we need to explore and get alignment
  • There is very little relevant existing data and past experiences or theories are unlikely to give us a clear direction

Reasons executives, business and IT users should be enthusiastic about Design Thinking:

Executives

  • Delivers Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Solves ill-defined problems of today and creates growth for the future
  • Modernizes the end-to-end experience of products &  services
  • Fosters innovation. Unlocks the creative potential within the organization at all levels
  • Avoids too much documentation and approvals upfront
Business Users
  • Focuses on the big picture as opposed to a checklist based requirements list.  Encourages contrasting view points to get a holistic perspective on problems and solutions
  • Eliminates the need to sign off on lengthy blueprint documents & requirement checklists. Design Thinking visual prototypes are co-created with business users and refined through iterative feedbacks at an early stage of the project
  • Increases user commitment and reduces fear. Users create their solution prototypes in a very short time that establishes small yet concrete steps to move the innovation journey one step forward
  • Embraces ambiguity and a learning mindset. Design Thinking framework enforces that the first solution is rarely (if ever) the perfect solution, and that innovation requires iteration
IT Users
  • Allows for innovation under tight constraints (budget and time). The end solution could be a combination of your existing platforms, new technologies as well as process improvements
  • Results in ultimate user adoption due to the co-creation process
  • Breaks down the political barriers and knowledge gaps between IT and non-IT users

Are you getting ready for technology innovation in your organization?  Share  your questions and experiences in the comment section.

In the next blog series, I will walk you through a step by step process on design thinking using a customer case study: Part 2: How is Design Thinking Really Done?

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About the author: Sana Salam, Sodales Solutions

Sana Salam is the president and founder of Sodales Solutions – an award winning SAP certified partner specialized in enterprise mobility, user experience and Big Data solutions. Sana Salam has over 10 years of experience in leading $multi-million engagements across utility, oil & gas, mining, engineering, telecommunications and public sectors. Previously, she has helped many companies across North America rescue their IT investments by reviving struggling SAP projects.

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