April 21, 2017

Design thinking is not a process it’s a toolbox

Design Thinking is more than a buzzword

In the business world, Design Thinking has become a new trend. When a new trend hits this world soon it becomes a new tool for team building and becomes oversimplified. Today there is a need to go above the buzzword and redefine what Design Thinking is.

When we speak about Design Thinking there is one word that needs clarification. It’s the word “Design”. You can see Design from many perspectives. Design can be an adjective. “This is a design car”.  When we use this word as an adjective the word “Design” means something like “pretty”,  or “stylish”.
We are more interested in using the word “Design” as a verb. The act of designing is an act of creation. The methods and tools used by creative people serve as a basis for the definition of this word.

As a verb “to design” means to find a harmonious and coherent solution to a problem that is usually not well defined.

If we append to this notion of  “Design” as we defined it the notion of “Thinking” we have already a much clearer definition of what Design Thinking is. Design Thinking is about using the ways of thinking that people who design use to innovate. Simple right? Let’s continue our journey.

Design Thinking and its differents models

As every approach, Design Thinking comes with as many flavors as you could find for ice creams. Here the most notable ways of modeling this approach.

The d.school Model

David M. Kelley is one of the smart brains, with Tim Brown that brought Design Thinking to the business world. Their approach is the foundation of the Standford d.school approach to Design Thinking.

“Design thinking is a human-centered 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.” — Tim Brown

Design Thinking and its differents models
Design thinking

In their model, the founders of IDEO put a clear focus on the human aspect of the Design Thinking model. The first building block is about empathizing with people. It means to understand people, their feelings, their behaviors, and motivation. Google uses this model as a basis for their Design Sprint.

The Double Diamond by The Design Council

The Double Diamond Model By The Design Council
The Double Diamond Model By The Design Council

The Design Council uses the Double Diamond Model. This model shows the two different problem-solving approaches. It highlights the contrast between the divergent thinking and the convergent thinking approach. The model makes it clear that the design process embraces divergent thinking from the start.

The Design Sprint by Google

The Google Design Sprint Model
The Google Design Sprint Model

Google created what they call the Design Sprint. It’s their own iteration of the Design Thinking approach. They added influences from the agile development approach. Google tailored their approach to the development of digital products. We see in this model a focus on prototyping and testing.

The big difference between the model of Google and the one by the IDEO’s founders is on the first building block. Google replaces the empathy block by a general understanding of the problematic.

How we approach it at Enigma

Pascal Wicht, a senior Design Strategist at Enigma transforms the well known models in the following metaphor:

Far too often Design Thinking is sold to organizations as a linear process. However, if we consider Design Thinking more like an approach and consider each step more like a toolbox, suddenly a much more appropriate model appears. There are different contexts of use for which we have different thinking modes,  methodologies and tools.

Why you should use Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a game changer in the business world. In a world where the classical problem-solving model produces inequity,  slow change, and frustration we need new models. In a world where constant change is the new rule, we need a model that can deal with uncertainty.
Here 3 concrete benefits of using Design Thinking:

  1. Human-based: Design Thinking puts the human at the center
  2. Show don’t tell: Design Thinking makes insights visuals and skips the long form unactionable protocol.
  3. Be divergent: Design Thinking starts by being divergent and explores a problem before going into implementation mode. This divergent thinking allows us to use uncertainty in a constructive manner.

The dangers of Design Thinking

At this stage, you are maybe convinced that you want to jump in the world of  Design Thinking. This approach creates and needs a cultural shift. It changes the way we see and solve problems. This is a big change that needs preparation. We prepared for you a checklist to see if you are ready to enter into this new world. If you are able to answer “yes” to most of the questions, then you are ready for this new quest.

  1. Are you ready to spend time training your staff not only during one day but give them at least 5 days?
  2. Are you ready to feel uncomfortable and challenged?
  3. Are you ready to talk about the innovation blockers that can come from your company culture or management culture?
  4. Are you ready to see Design Thinking not as a process but as an innovation cultural shift?

We are Design Thinkers, and we love to help

At Enigma, we have Design Thinking in our blood at least as much as we have digital in our blood. We have set up a team of specialists that use Design Thinking. They use it to solve problems in many disciplines. They use it in Marketing, Business, Social Innovation, Strategic Foresight and Service Innovation.

This team is ready to help you. Contact us in a traditional way or start a live chat conversation with us by using the bubble on the bottom right of your screen.

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