In 2008 the Harvard business review publish an article called Design Thinking by Tim Brown.
According to Brown, design thinking is a methodology that attempts to make use of the full spectrum of innovation activities with a focus on human centered design. This methodology requires teamwork, and requires the team to observe and understand the needs and wants of the end users, customers, or clients. It makes use of the "designer's sensibility and method to match peoples needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity" (86).
Design thinking leads to innovation and can help differentiate a company for competitive advantage. Design thinking must be used from the beginning of idea generation. Moreover, it can be used in new fields beyond physical goods, including processes, entertainment, services, user-interfaces, communications and more. All of these fields can benefit from putting the needs of the human first; human-centered design (86).
Prototyping is a key step in the design process. Prototypes do not have to be complex, expensive or time consuming to create; they should help the designer clearly communicate solutions and concepts with the users and clients leading to useful experimentation. through this experimentation, designers gather information and data that is used to refine the solution. This method of human centered design thinking with the use of prototyping was used in a Kaiser Permanente Hospital, to improve the system of shift changes of nurses. After communicating with and observing the nurses in their work, collaborating with a field expert (a nurse and process designer) and using prototypes to test ideas, the system was improved patient experience and nurses' satisfaction and productivity(86-88).
There are 3 phases to design
- Inspiration - the problem and/or opportunity and motivation to explore
- Ideation - the process of generating, developing and testing the ideas
- Implementation - the process of bringing the solution to marketing
It is not uncommon for a project to loop back through step one and two as solutions are refined (88-89).
Human centered designer can lead to the realization of new product categories and business opportunities. By looking directly at the needs of a companies core customer base (the users), a designer can identify holes in their experiences and needs that are not being met(89). By letting design thinking principles drive the project from the start, the outcome will have core elements that meet the true needs of the user, rather than secondary elements tacked on at the end to attempt to satisfy the user (90).
Design of form and aesthetics has it place. Beautiful images appeal to the users emotions. A solution that uses both design thinking in its core, and aesthetic design will satisfy the needs and desires of the user. It's important to realize that users must feel emotionally connected and motivated to engage with a product or system. A business that gives these principles a place in it's own strategy will have a better chance of connecting with it's clients and customers. As more needs are met, users will have higher expectations for the solutions (92).
The problems that exist today -- unaffordable healthcare, shrinking environmental resources, poverty, etc -- are issues with people at the center. The only way to solve them will be through innovation with a human-centered approach (92).
Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard business review, 86(6), 84.