Design thinking – a way to innovation?

Every company, starting from a startup and ending with huge enterprises, wants to be innovative and looks for a way to achieve it. And the method that can help us is a new working method – Design Thinking (DT).

I won’t be describing the whole method here, I will just use this quotation:

“Design Thinking is a systematized approach to innovation process. The first step is to build an interdisciplinary team, which consists of specialists, who can see the problem from different perspectives: engineers, technologists, marketing specialists, designers, sociologists etc. In the second step, the team realizes next stages of the method (…) using the set of tools and techniques to work out the best solution for implementation. The aim of the team is to generate an original solution and check how it works on the protype stage. “

It means that DT is a process of generating innovation (solving problems and so on). On the whole we can think (after taking part in any DT training ) that from now every company can be innovative, and all we have to do is to implement Design Thinking methodology (process). Easy, right? 😉

But how does it look like in practice?

design thinking processTaking part in a DT process, in 3 extremely different companies with completely different teams, I can honestly say that DT is a great team working method of solving different problems, but …… if a company (workers) isn’t innovative, Design Thinking itself  won’t surely change it.

There are many advantages of DT:

  • team work,
  • workers engagement in problems solving,
  • motivation,
  • integration and so on.

However we can’t treat it as a marvellous tool for an effective generating, especially product innovations.

Why ?

I mentioned some problems that can occur in a group in a previous article about group decision making. Many of them concern DT too. Unfortunately most of people who conduct workshops don’t realize how important a good match of team workers is or how important completing their knowledge about a particular problem is. Many trainings don’t mention these issues. The result of that is poor grade of DT workshops effects, what leads with time to discouraging workers and board of directors resistance.

The other problem is the best described by Maciej Lipiec:

“Design thinking….. concentrates only on theses stages of the design process, which are ‘the coolest’ – creative workshops, drafting, generating the biggest number of ideas. Designing contains of course a lot of fun, but it’s only partly true. The designers task is always to create a particular result: something that the user can see, feel or use. It’s not only a vision planning.”

Design thinking – is it surely a way to innovation?!?

To sum up –  innovation in the company shouldn’t be only based on DT, although the tool itself can be used as a completion of other actions.

I also recommend you to have a look at this interesting talk of Dan Saffer about Design Thinking

Design is easy. All you do is stare at the screen until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Marty Neumier