Design Thinking for Your Business

Part 1 of 3

Design thinking evolved from humble beginnings. The invention of the wheel, the automobile, all the way to an iPhone, airport security, life design and even Uber. With the introduction of each invention, the world becomes more accessible and, by default, more crowded with competition.

Design thinking originated as a designer’s approach to problem-solving, yet over the years, it grew in intricacy and complexity. Regardless, the natural allure of this methodology is that anyone can be a design thinker. It can be done anywhere and in any industry. With the recent state of the world, most of the designing will be done in the safety of our own home, and that’s perfectly fine. Being creative happens everywhere. 

By practicing the though process of reframing a situation, iterative testing, a bias to action, playing with Lego, drawing on whiteboards and playing with playdoh, you will start to Think Differently (yes, this is a play on Apple). In short, we are all design thinkers. We just don’t know what it feels like yet.

Design Think for Your Business​, design labs

Where do we begin?

Innovation is the new marketing. We know and agree with this. Great. 

Now what?

Design thinking starts with a deliberate attempt to expand our scope instead of narrowing it. Traditionally, marketing was seen as a shotgun. A massive campaign rollout to reach a wide array of people. With digital marketing, it’s become more selective, like a game of duck duck goose. Small finite specification, culminating in a specific, personalized experience. Marketing is now small and personal, so where does the shotgun fit in now?

Design thinking is the new shotgun. The goal with ideas is to go wide and think of as many as you can.

Often the genius ideas are the easiest ones to think of. When we started Stradea, it took us 2,058 km of driving to come up with the name. We went from Toronto to New Orleans. Yet, it was in our living room listening to BB King on vinyl where we thought up of one of our greatest ideas. (It’s in the design phase now). Some ideas take time, and others come instantly. There is no rhyme or reason for creativity. You just need to try.

Design thinking will open the room to possibilities and create amazing ideas. They will explore where no one has gone before, or at least ask the questions that will get you there. Just imagine, adopting design thinking practices in a board room setting. Asking people what they really thought and having everyone build up the ideas into tangible solutions.

Accessible Web Design

Questions are Currency.

Some really smart guy once said – “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask.” 

Designers like to say they fall in love with the problem and not the solution, and with a reframe like this, it pushes people to ask questions to get to know the problem. For example, dating before Tinder or Bumble; you spent time getting to know your partner by asking questions and experiencing enjoyment with them. In a sense, digital marketing is like that by way of focusing on the customer, defining their persona, learning what they do for a living, where they like to shop, what they like to eat, who they talk to on Instagram and voila!

Fail early, fail often.

Let’s just say, failure is not a bad thing, as long as you learn from it. Nothing is wrong with failure as long as it happens early in the process. A vibrant design-thinking culture will encourage prototyping—quick, cheap, and dirty (Note: we are no longer using the dating reference)—as part of the creative process and not just as a way of validating finished ideas.

The trick is, prototypes need to be experienced and focus on real-world feedback loops, not within quality control processes. Make it functional, make it feel, taste and smell real and have it solve for the problem. If you can’t test it in the field, act it out. Improvisation works in any scenario, and as Rory Sutherland said in his book “Alchemy: The Dark Art,” – ‘don’t forget to scent the soap.

Learn and grow.

There was once a girl who said: “I never get old; I grow.” You’ll never be the smartest person in a room, and if you are, find a new room. Your team is always a lot smarter than any individual one of you. Learn from each other and grow with each other. Virtual collaboration is quickly becoming the new norm. Challenge your organization to think about how to bring your team together remotely. With the world in a COVID-19 tailspin, this has become a primary concern for most businesses. It is also a perfect opportunity to sink deeper into projects, listen and engage with your teams, learn from them and their experiences to drive collaborative innovation.

Make the experience as productive and creative as possible. Building on the ideas of others is always more collaborative and engaging. Much better than listening to a 4-hour lecture on the intricacies of a scorecard matrix and its functional process in winning teams.

Trust us, we know.

Human-centred approach.

Design thinkers observe how people behave. We love to study people because people are interesting. But if we are making a product, and people are the market we are selling to, shouldn’t we understand how they engage/love/hate the experience?

Look at the entire process. Take Sake, for example. How would a consumer go through their journey of buying sake? How does that experience change if the consumer is highly educated in Sake (like our researcher James), or less educated (like our CEO Hugo)? Prioritize the emotional connection with your product as this is where loyalty begins.

User Experience (UX) looks at the behaviours that drive engagement. It’s more than buying a bottle in a store. The human-centred approach of a design thinker can increase the prospect of a consumer’s acceptance of your product by connecting the existing behaviours to the solution (in this case, your product).

human-centred-design-photo by scen read bus terminals

Design Thinking is about problem-solving. 

But its origins are on human-design, learning and understanding their pain points and creating solutions. We encourage you to think more like a designer, sculpt beautifully crafted marketing campaigns, products, services or even redesign your life. This isn’t a fad; it is a mindset that has existed for ages. Fortunately, now we have learned how to harness the benefits and apply to whatever human-centred challenges you are facing.

We’ve covered a lot in part 1 of our design thinking for businesses. In our next phase, we will introduce four new areas of consideration. To close out the series, we will discuss design thinking for you (the individual design thinker).

We felt it best to inform, but not overwhelm. To sum up, design thinking is a choose your adventure. However, when an organization looks to implement design thinking, they should adopt a gamification approach. Like all role-playing games (RPG’s), each character has their own attributes, skills, and strengths that will benefit the team. An organization’s goal is to build a team that can grow with experience together. That’s the sign of a real design thinking environment.

Always challenging, always learning, and if you have the option, watch a little Golden Girls.