Where does the journey of an Innovation begin? Many say, it begins with a problem? But where does a problem originate from? A problem arises when there exists a user for a particular product or service. Would there be a problem if there were no user? Whether the user is a human being like a driver for an automobile or an inanimate entity like a bulb for the electricity service? So, who comes first, the problem or the user? Of course, the user. One doesn’t need Einstein’s IQ to answer this question, right?
But do we always begin our problem solving exercise with the user? More often than not, we begin with a particular solution or a technology in mind. We say, we have access to or control over XYZ technology, let us use it to create a breakthrough offering. Is that the right way to approach Innovation? Let us explore.
For over the last two decades, Design thinking has been the discussed as a wonderful tool for making Innovation happen, or for that matter to solve any kind of a problem (complex or simple).
Design Thinking (DT)
DT is an approach to problem-solving that keeps the intended user of the product/service at the center at all times (right from the stage of identifying the right problem to ideating for a solution to prototyping and testing of the solution). Hence, it lays enormous emphasis on user-centricity. DT encompasses people (by observing them and gaining insights through their behavior patterns), ideating (brainstorming, looking at a problem from multiple perspectives), iterative prototyping (visually/physically representing the thinking), and scenario building. A few decades ago, designers were brought in at the end of the product creation process to beautify the product by introducing some fancy aesthetics. Today, forward-thinking companies are involving Design Thinkers to answer the question, ‘What to make?’ rather than, ‘How to beautify what is made?’
This shift has happened because the high ‘Empathy Quotient’ of a Design Thinker helps her to quickly capture the latent, unarticulated needs of the consumer. The high empathy quotient stems from the relentless emphasis on user-centricity as the main building block of DT.
Classically, The D-School at Stanford university captures the DT methodology in the five steps as shown in the figure below
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