Thanks to Albert Tan, Director of UX Design at CA Technologies for hosting the Design Thinking Workshop at the Built to Change Summit.
Design thinking is a user-centered process to solving problems. There's more doing than thinking and it's something everyone in your company needs to be doing.
The phases of design thinking are:
Empathize - identify with the emotions, thoughts or attitudes of others. Feel how another person feels. It can take a while to get end users to let down their guard and let you know what they're really thinking and what their emotional connection is to the product or solution you are developing.
Define - avoid verbs, focus on nouns. Capture the motivations and goals of the person for whom you are designing. Frame the problem by capturing insights, feelings, and motivations, from end users. Define the problem you are attempting to solve based on the insights gleaned from the end user. Richer insights lead to more innovative solutions.
Ideate - sketch three to five distinctive ways to meet the user's needs. Share the concepts with the end user and get their feedback.
Prototype - build a prototype based on what you've learned.
Test - share the prototype with as many end users as you need to determine if you have created the minimum viable product. Do this one-on-one so end users are engaged and telling you what they really think rather than what they think you want to know.
Albert used a classic example of design thinking from Procter & Gamble's Tide laundry detergent. The initial problem that parents identified was they needed clean clothes. By going deeper into the interview, P&G researchers learned that parents wanted to be better moms/dads and that clean clothes on their family were visual proof that they were better. This led to a successful marketing campaign that essentially communicated that using Tide makes you a better parent.
What Do Developers Need to Know About Design Thinking?
It's really just another tool, a very powerful tool, to solve problems.
It provides a different perspective on the problem to be solved and forces you to look at the problem from the end users' perspective rather than assuming you know what the end user is thinking.
It's a very fluid, not dogmatic, approach. Anything that gives you a better idea of what your end users need or want is great. Try to get to the emotional reason why they need a solution rather than the rational reason. People, even developers, make decisions based on emotion, whether they want to admit it or not.
How Can You Get Better at Design Thinking?
- Keep an open mind. You can't fill a cup that's already full. Don't think you know what the end user is thinking and don't think all end users are thinking the same thing.
- Be willing to let go of preconceived notions around process and be open to listening to, and learning from, others.
- Let go of Agile for this process.
- Just try it, test it on yourself and with other members of your team. It isn't a huge investment. It's a catalyst to think about the future.
- Embrace the process and try it on the product you’re working on right now regardless of the industry you're in.
- Keep in mind that you’re trying to help the customer achieve something. This is part of the definition of the problem that takes place after you've gathered insights.
- Check your ego at the door and be a student of learning.