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Where often time Design is considered to be the end result, Design Thinking focuses on developing a repeatable process to define and solve design-related problems for clients. This repeatable process combines intuition, imagination and logic to create the best possible design for the end user.
The four core steps of design thinking are:
- Define the problem
- Consider multiple perspectives and create many options
- Refine selections
- Execute on your winning design
Define The Problem
The first step to defining the problem is to have your marketing department or client create a project brief. This should outline what they need, the target audience it’s intended for. Defining the problem requires cross-functional insight, and the input of multiple perspectives, so as to develop the most 360-view of the problem. This process also requires that team members define the goal in its simplest, rawest format - so as to avoid making any assumptions or predetermining the path for problem resolution.
This may look something like:
- Person 1: We need to design a message forum
- Person 2: We need to design a place for consumers to chat in real-time
- Person 3: We need enable our consumers to engage in meaningful discussions with each other.
Consider Multiple Perspectives and Create Many Options
Even the most successful companies fall victim to routine. Our desire for success can often lead us down a path of making formulaic decisions which provide safe outcomes, rather than taking a risk which could offer even richer growth. In scientific theory, if you do the same thing twice you should receive the same result. However this misses out on the key variable, the human variable. When you incorporate the human variable, doing the same thing over and over often leads to diminished return - unless you iterate upon your strategy.
The second piece of Design Thinking is consider all of the potential ideas to solve the problem. A brainstorming session is a great way to capture all of the creative ideas of your team, without requiring their ideas to fit a certain narrative.
Refine Your Selections
It is during this stage that you collect all undeveloped ideas and choose the best candidates for further development. Once chosen and agreed upon by the group, you are free to fully develop multiple ideas as far as you can take them. It is only once an idea has been taken to its full potential, that you can decide whether it truly solves the problem at hand.
Execute on Your Winning Idea
Now that you’ve exhausted the possibilities, and your team has truly found a solution they can agree is best, it’s time to execute. You’ll go through a rigorous process of testing, until you are certain your solution answers the core of the original design problem.