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Design Thinking is a collaborative methodology that gets to the heart of what people want in their lives to overcome problems, using iterative prototyping to develop new ideas that can be developed quickly and then launched to market.
What you’ll find is a way of working that is disconcertingly simple and childlike in its worldview, which is a tremendous way of getting often battle-hard, weary and suspicious employees in different business units to put aside their differences and unite to create new ideas. At its best, Design Thinking frees up organisations from the tyranny of PowerPoint, endless meetings, and the painful dissolution of creativity as ideas limp from one department to the next.
Pioneered in the US by IDEO and championed by a Stanford University practise, a methodology that was originally used to develop fresh new physical products designed to be practical and attractive for their users, Design Thinking is now used to crack all kinds of problems like complex internal systems of delivery, whether that be supply chain logistics, or even chewy public service problems like getting traffic to move more freely in cities.
Design Thinking has been adopted by Reply companies
Triplesense Reply and
Twice Reply in Germany with much success, and being offered by Twice Reply in the UK. At Twice Reply UK, we are using Design Thinking to get Marketing, Product and Technology owners in a room to work together to develop new services that can drive their digital transformation agenda.
Last week, we used Design Thinking to help 24 marketing procurement professionals from a variety of different blue chip companies, to work in small teams to create new solutions designed to free them up from the fiendishly admin-heavy task of navigating the ever shifting world of marketing services agencies.
Smiles broke out all round as we travelled at breakneck speed through the basics of Design Thinking across 2 hours. By the end, people were building models out of Lego, bits of paper and sellotape, and even role-playing what solutions could look like. For example, we had an idea for an interactive platform called
‘Doris’, which would be a screen-based application featuring a lady who would answer all your procurement questions and help solve problems. Not hard to see how this might be developed in the context of innovations in
Voice-Activated devices like Amazon’s Alexa.
One team also built a swimming pool complete with diving board, which would warmly invite their agencies to ‘jump in’ and freely share their content and projects. Again, not hard to imagine a section on an advertiser’s intranet called
‘The Swimming Pool’, with an alluring Hockney-like design and interface, where procurement can easily access content and projects …
The prototyping element of Design Thinking is what lends the methodology such charm; ideas in themselves are not solutions, and by forcing people to build something from an idea, not only did we break through the simplistic application of words to describe a solution (which can create semantic challenges), the teams started edging towards how their ideas might actually work as a product. These prototypes allow teams to quickly start testing ideas with people, to see if they work. This is very important, as more and organisations are moving from a project based view of digital transformation, to a product led one. In essence, organisations are desperate to reconnect with their customers with solutions that actually work, as opposed to managing lengthy projects where everyone forgets the original customer centric reason they were doing something in the first place. On top of this, our methodology demonstrated how Design Thinking can radically cut down the time it might take to develop a prototype that can be tested with real users. Under traditional linear (or ‘waterfall’ using digital development parlance) processes, it might have taken weeks to come up with ideas like ‘Doris’ or ‘the Swimming Pool’.