In a world that is becoming increasingly complex and diverse, the problems businesses are trying to solve are also equally complex and diverse. In such a scenario where innovation is the new buzz word, a variety of organizations are looking to integrate Design Thinking in their business strategy. But what exactly is Design Thinking?
Recently, Coursera organized a webinar with Professor Jeanne M. Liedtka, a faculty member at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and Raghav Gupta, India Country Director at Coursera. To watch a recording of the webinar, click here.
During the discussion, Jeanne, a leader in the fields of design thinking, human-centered design and innovation explained what Design Thinking is and shared her views on how organizations can use it as a strategy for innovation.
Key takeaways from the discussion:
Design Thinking is not just another problem-solving approach
There are many problem solving strategies available to business leaders but what makes Design Thinking particularly unique is that it fills the void in problem solving and helps organizations under conditions of uncertainty, where human beings are involved and where the data available is not optimal to predict the future. The reason why design thinking works under these conditions:
- Empathy: Design Thinking enables us to identify unarticulated needs of those we are trying to serve, our customers. The question to ask ourselves is what are the customers trying to accomplish by buying our product or service?
- Invention: All business strategies have three components: possibilities, constraints and uncertainties. In the business world, we begin conversations with real world constraints. But Design Thinking begins with possibilities and encourages us to put aside uncertainties temporarily so that we can a portfolio of creative ideas. Ask yourself: What if anything were possible?
- Iteration: Any idea is just the beginning of a good idea. Design Thinking is almost like a methodology of learning where we move our portfolio of creative ideas into rapid experimentation and optimise in the most cost effective manner – learn quickly and cheaply!
The value delivered by Design Thinking is not only in creation of better ideas but also in creation of a social technology
Design Thinking helps in producing better ideas that can be tested and implemented quickly. But the biggest contribution it can have is in facilitating behavioural change in organizations. It motivates people to think in new ways. Think of it like a social technology where people with varying perspectives can work together to find higher order solutions. The paradox in innovation is that the surest way to find more creative and value producing solutions is to bring a diversity of perspectives. In the business context, this would mean bring in teams from engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing together to work on solutions. Design Thinking provides the set of rules to facilitate a conversation between these experts.
Design Thinking does not tell you which strategy to use but provides better data to make certain strategic choices.
Many people ask about the connection between design and business strategy. The most prevalent reason why many new products and services fail is that nobody wants to buy them. Design Thinking weeds out ideas that that are less likely to result in such products and services. A company’s strategy identifies areas of opportunities that can be explored. Design Thinking comes in when the company wants to identify specific new concepts within those areas of opportunities and enables it to conduct rapid testing and prototyping. These concepts can be scaled quickly and cheaply and that’s how growth begins.
Everyone has the potential to create value for the people they serve and organizations need to build a culture to unleash this potential
Design Thinking is not just the responsibility of a select group of people in an organization. Every leader, manager and employee needs to be able to see and act on opportunity. The value a frontline sales executive can add will surely be different from what a senior executive can add but every organization needs to focus on unleashing the potential that each individual has to create new ideas. A challenge that all leaders face today is to maintain workforce efficiency by reducing variance. However, they need to focus on creating a culture where employees feel safe to take risks and conduct experiments. If organizations can create an environment where employees can “learn” to get to the right answer rather than already knowing the right answer from the start, employee engagement would be the least of their concerns. Therefore, it becomes imperative for organizations to create a methodology as part of their leadership development initiatives that equips people to innovate in uncertain human centered conditions.
Shifting employee mindset is the most important way of measuring the impact of integrating Design Thinking into your company strategy
Every outcome should have a measurable impact. The impact of Design Thinking can be measured in many visible, countable ways. Organizations the world over that are using Design Thinking are seeing additional revenues from new products or services that result from this ideation process. But the most significant impact that Design Thinking can have is the change in the way people view their work and in the way they have conversations with each other. If every employee in your organization learns to see and act on opportunities that others don’t see yet, scaling growth will become much more sustainable.
Coursera for Business
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