We know great minds think alike, but what happens with business when those minds run out of ideas? How do you keep the creativity flowing? Thinking like a designer might hold answers to these questions.

Design thinking is becoming more and more popular, and many successful companies are slowly implementing this practice into their everyday workflow. For more insights from experienced entrepreneurs, sign up for our EWOR Platform and gain access to over 17 courses and a plethora of resources.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking was first mentioned in 1969 when cognitive scientist Herbert A. Simon published his book “The Science of the Artificial”. However, an entire century had to pass for this innovative idea to be implemented into the business world.

Tim Brown further developed this idea and how design thinking transforms organisations and inspires innovation. He was able to combine the feasibility of technology, viability of economy and desirability of a human’s point of view in order to help people master design thinking.

In other words, design thinking uses creativity to solve problems.

The Importance of Thinking Like a Designer

Although design thinking doesn’t have a concrete definition, Brown explains it in a very interesting way.

“Design thinking is a human-centred 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.”

It’s more than a method. Design thinking is a practice. Thinking like a designer can help reshape the way organisations develop their products and services.

The First 3 Steps of Design Thinking

  1. Inspiration – In order to solve the problem, you have to search for its source. Study the problem from both the company and the client’s perspective.

    Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and try to think outside the box. What problem do they have? What do they need in order for that problem to be solved?
  2. Ideation – Once you know what the main problem is and its cause, start brainstorming possible solutions. This is when ideation comes into play. There are no wrong answers here, allow all members of the team to give their input and let their creativity shine.

    Offer solutions and brainstorm about every possible way to find a solution. Keep in mind that having different types of people from different job positions could benefit this step.
  3. Implementation – or prototyping, if you prefer, is the last step in design thinking. In order to bring the idea into action and make it tangible, you have to test it first. You’ve identified your customers’ needs, found the problem, and thought of the best resolution. Now it’s time to get down to work and make the project happen.

5 Stages to the Process

If design thinking is still a little tricky for you or hard to understand, don’t worry. This practice is still developing and growing. We broke down the three core steps into more detailed sections to make it easier to follow the process.

  1. Empathise – We already mentioned how in order to help your customers, you need to understand their needs. The way to do so is in two concepts: empathy and compassion.

    This step is perfect for abandoning your superstitions and your own assumptions about the world. It’s all about your clients, so you have to put yourself in their shoes because they might have an entirely different outlook on the world compared to you.

    This approach will help you understand your customers’ feelings, wishes and desires. Thus, you’ll be able to offer them a suitable solution through products and services you offer.
  2. Define – After understanding your customers’ needs, it’s time to define the core problem. By accumulating information from the empathising phase, you and your team can move to determine problems your clients may have.

    By analysing and synthesising knowledge you attained during phase one, you can outline the problems that should be the main focus.
  3. Ideate – When faced with a problem, you can start brainstorming ideas on how to resolve it.

This stage is all about brainstorming ideas on how to solve the problems you identified in stage two.

  1. Prototype – Once you defined the problem with your team and found a solution for it, you are ready to build a prototype. This phase is mainly experimental.

    Gather your team and think of products and services that could help your customers. Solve their problem by creating inexpensive and simplified versions of the product. By investigating ideas from step three, you can implement them into this process.
  2. Test – After you’ve completed all four steps, there is only one thing left: testing. You should always test your prototype before launching it. Wait for the results and feedback of your tests from your target audience. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

    These stages are all connected and build up on one another. In order for your project to succeed, you need to see it as a whole. That means you can always go back to previous stages to change, add or refine your solutions. 

How Can it Help Your Business?

Essential business skills every entrepreneur should own to start and run a business: leadership, planning, project management, and money management. All of these create only a small part of a great and successful business mind.

Sustainable businesses all have one thing in common: their aim is to understand and match customers’ needs. In order to do so, you have to be compassionate and empathise with your users. Design thinking helps you achieve just that.

It is also useful for entrepreneurs who are looking for a way to understand their target audience and find long-term solutions for them. If you want to build sustainable products, you have to think like a designer. Interpretation of the product also plays an important role in gaining attention that will result in interest and in the best-case scenario, consumption of the product or usage of the service.

Why Design Thinking for Business Works

Going through the five steps of design thinking for businesses, you and your team will engage in creative thinking, while building great commitment among your team members. The process challenges your innovative and creative brain.

On top of it all, it builds a very useful skill: thinking outside the box. Creativity is not a talent only some people are born with. Rather, it’s a skill that anyone can master with long-term dedication and hard work.

By implementing design thinking into your workflow, you can lower the risks and costs of your business. You will build your products and services based on your customers’ point of view.

Immersion in the process of design thinking will also help your team bond and grow closer. The more ideas you share with one another, the more your team spirit will grow. In the end, working for the mutual satisfaction of both your employees and your customers can only benefit your business.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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