Design thinking is a technique more and more in fashion lately especially in connection with innovative approaches to design or adapt products, services, processes, business models that can be used in many industries.
The roots reside partially in the creativity techniques developed in the early 50’es, but during time many thinkers have contributed with books, articles and methodologies in transforming Design Thinking into a more scientific approach. Important contributions to be mentioned between others are IDEO – a well known global design company and d.school from Stanford University.
The hardest part is not the theory – you can take an online or on-site training course or workshop, but it might be extremely hard to put it in place and – most importantly – have successful results.
Regarding the theoretical side, I find two models more valuable:
The Stanford d.school model:
It is a very clear model, we need to understand the client and develop the product or service always with its needs and expectations in mind, not with our own desires and ideas about what he wants. The advantage is that you can launch an incomplete product in a short time and develop and upgrade it in strong correlation with the client’s needs and not risk investing lots of money for a long period of time in a product nobody needs and history is full of such stories. You reiterate and constantly upgrade and offer a better product, this is a never-ending loop since the clients expectations might continually raise ad the competition being fierce.
Another interesting approach belongs to prof. Liedtka from the University of Virginia, also offering a course on Design Thinking. In her approach you have to find the answers to four questions: What is?, What if?, What wows? and What works? when you design a product or service:
The two methodologies have things in common of course, but the most important lesson from my expertise is that only studying the theory it is always not enough. You need lots of practice in order to have palpable successful results. And trial and error is an inherent part of it. But these two methodologies might help you have a more structured approach of Design Thinking.
Of course, in case you want to surprise the customer the way Steve Jobs did or want to disrupt your industry, you will need something else, maybe some genius touch and a lot of boldness between others, and also some different methodologies.