DESIGN THINKING for Project Teams

Design Thinking offers a structured framework for understanding and pursuing innovation in ways that contribute to organic growth and add real value to customers. The Design Thinking cycle involves observation to discover unmet needs within the context and constraints of a particular situation, framing the opportunity and scope of innovation, generating creative ideas, testing, and refining solutions. In its simplest terms, Design Thinking can be defined in three stages: Invent what customers want by immersing yourself in their lives; test your ideas—using a ‘good enough’ solution; and bring that idea to life.

Design Thinking originated from the design profession, applying processes and working methods to broader areas. Advocates include IDEO, the original developers of Design Thinking, and Hasso Plattner, the founder of SAP, who made it integral to his software company and its success.

For project teams, the emphasis of Design Thinking is on business benefits and how teams can incorporate a customer-centric mindset—one that leverages empathy and encourages experimentation, and even failure. In the past, design has most often occurred fairly far downstream in the development process and has focused on making new products aesthetically attractive or enhancing brand perception through smart, evocative advertising. Today, as innovation’s terrain expands to encompass human-centered processes and services as well as products, companies are asking designers to create ideas rather than to simply dress them up.

Excerpt from an interview with a Design Thinking expert conducted by Markitects for its client, International Institute for Leaning, Inc.