How to improve productivity with design thinking

Concept in brief – 3 ways (part 3/5)

Design thinking is all the rage.  From IBM to AirBnB, to reaching the cover of Harvard Business Review last year, companies are embracing a design-based way of thinking. Design thinking is here to stay and it can improve your productivity. This 5-part series will help you understand and apply design thinking personally and in your organisation.

So Design thinking is well rated and highly needed. But what is it? In this post I give three different explanations.

  1. Roger Martin’s Knowledge Funnel

Perhaps the name most associated with Design Thinking is Roger Martin, author of The Opposable Mind and The Design of Business. Below is arguably Martin’s central framework, illustrating his view on Design Thinking:

Martin states, The velocity of movement through the knowledge funnel, powered by design thinking, is the most powerful formula for competitive advantage in the twenty-first century”, Roger Martin.

For Martin, Design Thinking involves a balance of analytical mastery and intuitive originality that drives knowledge through the stages of mystery (problems that cannot be solved simply rationally), to heuristic (“a rule of thumb that helps narrow the field of enquiry”), to algorithm (“certified production processes”).

  1. Nick Chatrath’s Triple Dual Focus

I don’t often refer to myself in the third person, but in this case I am presenting a complementary framework. There is much to commend Martin’s definition and approach. I go beyond it in one respect: excellent Design Thinking is not about balance but about maximizing both poles simultaneously, in aim, approach and logical modes.

 I call the above triple dual focus. Design thinking works because:

  • It harnesses reliability, and goes beyond it.
  • It appreciates analytical mastery and goes beyond it.
  • It uses all relevant logical modes, not just one or two.
  1. The 5-Stage Approach

The following 5-stage approach is commonly used and I like its simplicity. I found this on LinkedIn Pulse, posted by Danny D. Kosasih and at Stanford’s D-School.

Empathise: Learn about the audience for whom you are designing by observation and interview. Who is my user? What matters to this person?

Define: Create a point of view that is based on user needs and insights. What are their needs?

Ideate: Brainstorm and come up with as many creative solutions as possible. Wild ideas encouraged!

Prototype: Build a representation of one or more of your ideas to show to others. How can I show my idea? Remember: A prototype is just a rough draft!

Test: Share your prototyped idea with your original user for feedback. What worked? What didn’t?

What next?

Which definition do you like best? Share your comments here.

Read on for part 4 of this series on design thinking.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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