Innovation Inspiration : Design Thinking for Innovation

02 Nov 2010|Added Value

What is design thinking?
Design thinking is hot, but what is it? It’s a human-centred process of solving big innovation problems, a balance of ‘left-brain’ and ‘right-brain’ thinking to deliver breakthrough ideas and create a culture of disruptive innovation.

Why do we need it?
Design thinking starts by providing organisations with an intimate understanding of their customers as individuals. But it goes onto increase the volume of ideas and creative output of a company; along with facilitating the rapid testing of ideas, making them ‘real’ and accelerating their development.
Listen to Roger Martin talk about how P&G’s integration of design thinking consistently delivers rapid growth in profits and increased market share
Read what the sceptics have to say

An example from P&G
Here’s how P&G CEO, A.G. Lafley, explains it: “Business schools tend to focus on inductive thinking (based on directly observable facts) and deductive thinking (logic and analysis, typically based on past evidence), Design schools emphasise abductive thinking—imagining what could be possible.”
Read more about how P&G have invested in design thinking and how it’s transforming their innovation culture
Watch A.G. Lafley explain how P&G brought back Herbal Essences through a design thinking approach

How can it be applied?
At its simplest, design thinking is a three-step innovation formula: observation, ideation and prototyping.  Most organisations will believe they already do this. But the real value of design thinking is delivered in the iterative application of all three in tandem, along with the synthesis with left-brain activities, which ground breakthrough ideas in business requirements. Let’s look briefly at each step.
1. Observation
Observation involves getting into the consumers’ environment and understanding their experience. While focus groups provide an invaluable window into consumers’ conscious needs, some of our most important requirements are latent. Observing people in their natural setting, breaking down their user journey into its component elements, experiencing the journey first hand and challenging it at every stage can deliver deep insights which can’t be articulated.
2. Ideation
Ideation sessions take place before any assumptions are made about what the answer should look like. Quantity of ideas is vital and even seemingly irrelevant thoughts may bridge to potential solutions. As a benchmark, high energy creative sessions should deliver 100 ideas per hour!
3. Prototyping
The sooner ideas become practical solutions in the real world rather than theoretical scenarios, the sooner their strengths and weaknesses become clear.
Prototyping has traditionally existed largely for product development, but the principles hold true for the intangible world of brands, services and experiences. How we create quick, effective and viable ways of doing this remains a creative challenge, but here are some options:
a. Short movie-style or animated scenes that capture the essence of what a new service, brand offering, scenario or business could become. Take a look at these future scenarios from the likes of Intel and Microsoft: 3 future scenarios
b. Through acting out archetypal characters, the team can be transported into the future scenario to imagine and interrogate the details. This could involve script writers, performers and production teams to create and record interpretations of interactions between people in theoretical future scenarios.
c. The creation of physical future environments, for example a temporary store for a retail brand, staffed by actors who represent the proposed service offering.
d. Asking people to live their lives as if a future scenario was a reality today: the BBC took a UK family and asked them to live their lives as if they lived in a society where waste was forbidden and they were forced to change their lives.

 If you’d like to discuss how Added Value can help you leverage design thinking within the innovation space, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Written by Jonathan Hall, CEO Added Value France

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