A recent article in the Economist showed how the voluntary and public sectors are now joining private corporations in using design thinking in re-engineering their services. One of the leaders in this field is the design agency IDEO. They have over 600 employees working in eight countries for clients in all sectors. They have developed an approach to design thinking which is built on three key principles.
1. Lots of Different Eyes. Their staff are drawn from many different backgrounds and they deploy diverse teams on each challenge. The value of diversity in brainstorming and creative thinking is well-established. The best team to tackle a business design challenge should have a mix of men and women, young and old, insiders and outsiders, scientists and artists and so on. A homogeneous group will often agree with each other and come up with similar ideas. A diverse group will challenge each other’s ideas and generate diverse suggestions.
2. Look at the problem from the consumer’s point of view. If we are going to add value by innovation then we need to understand all the problems, frustrations and confusions that customers suffer when they use our products and services. Complaints, feedback and surveys are a good place to start but it is even better to observe users and note in detail how they use the product. Innovations that offer cool designs and brilliant technology are no good if they do not address a customer need.
3. Prototype. IDEO place great stress on making ideas tangible. Once they have a promising idea they will mock up a prototype of the product or service and get feedback from people including customers, designers and engineers. They try to make the idea real as soon as possible to check that they are on the right track and to gather feedback for improvements.
These are principles which all innovative teams should embrace. If you want to know more about IDEO and their approach to brainstorming, design thinking and creativity then The Art of Innovation is recommended. It is written by Tom Kelley who founded the company with his brother David. It is contains many stories, examples and practical tips.
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This post was previously published on Destination Innovation.
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