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How to implement design thinking into a new environment?

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Fabrica 360 introduces the design thinking approach to people representing different industries via its Design Thinking Meetups.

Design thinking is in the DNA of some of the most successful companies worldwide. The creative process of those organizations is fueled by empathy and passion for problem-solving. They aren’t afraid to step into their customers’ shoes. That gives them a chance to sense, and therefore meet, the exact hopes and needs of their clients. Those firms get under their customers’ skin and get exclusive insights from them, even when their clients have trouble articulating their desires.

Progressive companies thrive on finding ways to make their customers’ lives easier and happier. Those companies invest in smoothening their clients’ overall experience by making the way people interact with their products as effortless as possible. Creating innovations for the benefit of their users is the backbone of their work.

Even if you are the pioneer in your team and you recognize the need to implement design thinking into your enterprise’s production process, you have to keep something very important in mind. Implementing such a disruptive concept into a new environment might not be as easy as you think. Especially if the decision-makers in your company are afraid of failure and need concrete metrics in order to measure success.

Moreover, those decision-makers usually have to obey somebody else’s orders, despite the fact that they are willing to use cutting-edge tools to empower their team. Their hands are usually tied because they do not have the CEO’s approval to unleash their team’s creative energy and reach their full potential by diving into a brand-new experience. However, the process can cut down the company’s expenses and make the launching of a new product easier in the long run.

Several important questions linger in the air. How do you convince the decision-makers to embrace design thinking and implement it in the environment that does not tolerate transformational change? What is the most accurate and painless way to apply it within your organization? Is it possible to magically shift the mindsets of your teammates overnight?

Trying a single workshop on design thinking will not do the trick. In order to solve high-priority problems and achieve great results, you need to invest in constantly training a team consisting of members from various departments. By developing their skills and channeling their superpowers, you will be able to focus their energy toward in-house issue solving.

Design thinking gives you a chance to create long-term solutions for your business challenges.

1. Step by step

Grasping the essence of design thinking and unleashing creativity through it is not something that happens within the snap of a finger. It will take time to shift perspective and transform the mindsets of other people in the company. You need to teach others the methodology and then practice executing each of the five phases – empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing.

You need to perform small experiments that allow your team to practice gathering data, testing frequently, as well as iterating quickly. The best you can do is set an hour or two each week to work on those skills, or start with a small project and then grow by applying the methodology in developing all of your business ideas.

2. Make the forward-thinkers your advocates

There are people in your organization who naturally adopt new strategies, approaches or sets of skills. You know who they are. It might be a good idea to motivate those teammates to take more time to learn and work with people who have trouble understanding the concepts you want to unveil. They can coach other colleges along the way.

Empower those who adopt the methodology easily, inspire them to create a network of supporters. These teammates can become evangelists for design thinking, championing the concept in meetings with decision-makers and implementing it in projects across departments.

3. Encourage multidepartment co-creation

Design thinking works best when it includes people, who work in different departments or have divergent points of view. It does not matter if you are conducting a workshop to teach your organization about design thinking or beginning a new project to gain hands-on experience. Make sure the participants have diverse professional backgrounds and can bring a different experience to the table.

4. Don’t fall in love with your first idea

It is quite easy to stick to your most promising idea and fool yourself into thinking it can become your final solution. Especially if that idea is inspired by something which a senior manager said. Most problems are more complicated than we think. A promising idea, pushed into a fully formed solution, without any prototyping or validation, may turn out to have some of the assumptions wrong. In addition, the result is a solution that will not work. You end up wasting a lot of time, energy and money.

Explore different approaches. You will probably be inspired to create more ideas or merge a few solutions into a better and more successful one. Build prototypes and test them with teammates, stakeholders, and users.

5. Redefine the idea of failure

Reframe the idea of failure and learn from your mistakes at an early stage. You might get the feeling that your idea will fail, especially if the testing phase reveals that your assumptions were not correct. However, in the words of David Kelly, the founder of IDEO, if you fail faster, you will succeed sooner.

Making mistakes provides you with a lot of learning opportunities, which eventually will lead to new insights and enviable success. The point is to ensure that you can validate your assumptions before you step forward and implementing your ideas. Keep an eye on the whole process and establish how you will measure the results.

- Fabrica 360


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