What is design thinking? | PDD


July 26 2017
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What is design thinking?

At PDD, we get asked this question a lot. What is Design thinking? So here is a brief summary of what it means and the benefits it could have to your organisation.

Design thinking is a term used to refer to the human-centred approach and strategies that we designers use in the innovation process. Simply put, it is an easily employable methodology that anyone can use to learn to create solutions that will naturally resonate with people – be they end users, consumers or people who might make “it” work or happen.  Employing the methodologies that designers use to create new products and services, design thinking steers businesses’ creations towards services or products that are desirable to people, feasible to make, and financially viable – the triumvirate for business success.

At PDD, we have used human-centred design techniques for over twenty years – we prefer this term to design thinking as we are not just thinking, we are mostly doing. We define human-centred design as the practice of creating solutions that lead to improved outcomes, when these solutions are driven by the needs and desires of the people whom they affect.

Human-centred design resonates with people because it starts with people – whether internal or external stakeholders (we prefer to talk about stakeholders as it is not just about the end user). Compared to other innovation processes, we intensify our touchpoints and contact with people early in the process – What are the unmet needs of the stakeholders?  What are their pain points in their current context?  What are their unarticulated desires?  How can we create improved outcomes? Usually beginning with research (such as interviews or observations of stakeholders in their environments), we endeavor to understand their experiences as they occur and build empathy. Viability and feasibility criteria are developed early on through collaboration and co-creation with internal stakeholders. Then based on all these learnings combined, and using a specific set of tools, we are able to understand the challenges fully and communicate these through insights that allow us to ideate, prototype, and iterate relevant design solutions – getting prototypes in front of stakeholders early and often to improve with each iteration. The ultimate solutions are then passed through the evaluation criteria to make sure they meet the rigours of viability and feasibility.

These solutions naturally appeal because they were not created for creation’s sake (the world does not need another widget!), but directly created to solve a challenge people faced or improve the context in which they live, work, or play.

Top 5 benefits of human-centred design:

Human-centred design mitigates risks and reduces development costs associated with innovation through:

-A better understanding of the opportunity space
-An understanding & prioritisation of all stakeholders’ needs and preferences (including pain points)
-Testing & refinement early AND throughout the process
-A reduction of negative impact of biases
-Fostering multi-disciplinary collaboration & buy-in

Finally, if you are interested in attending a Human-Centred Design Workshop, visit our Innovation Training page

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Posted by Janet
Principal – Design Research

Languages spoken: English, French.
The last thing that inspired me: Introducing my kids to great artists at Beaubourg.
My dream project: Figuring out a way for everyone to have access to clean food.
My obsession: Reading cookbooks.

Image credit PDD Group Ltd.