- Lucia Blasco
- BBC News World
In Spanish it translates as “design thinking”, but the design thinking– better known in its English word – is by no means the exclusive property of designers.
Great innovators from the world of literature, art, music, science, engineering and business practice it, explains the Interaction Design Foundation, the world’s largest online design school.
The prestigious universities of Stanford and Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have courses dedicated to this methodology. And more and more renowned brands, such as Apple, Google or Samsung, are adopting this system.
But what, broadly speaking, does the design thinking?
“It consists of looking at the world as a designer. And that means asking yourself how to improve the world from a designer’s perspective“, explains to BBC Mundo Sandy Speicher, executive director of IDEO, a global design company that is credited with popularizing the method.
The company – founded in Palo Alto, California, and with headquarters in Europe, Asia and North America – did not invent the design thiking (It had already been written about in the 1960s), but she became known for practicing and applying it to problem solving since the early 1990s.
Speicher has been with IDEO for almost 17 years and is the first woman to assume the role of CEO at the company. She is internationally recognized for her experience in the design of large-scale systems and in education, and led in Peru the implementation of a school system starting from scratch.
“We can use the design thinking to involve communities in designing better schools, better hospitals, voting systems … and so many other things! Especially in this age of pandemic where there is so much to design and reimagine, “says Speicher.
The design thinking it applies to many industries, and is not exclusive to those with a design background.
Beyond the world of design
“It originated with products, then expanded to services and then to spaces and systems. Today it has become central in business to multitude of aspectsfrom being more sustainable to implementing a digital strategy, “explains Speicher.
“When you apply the design thinking a business begins to change the way of working “, adds the designer.
“We learn to be more collaborative, to involve different branches of a team or a company “.
The design thiking it can also be applied to non-business decisions.
“Sometimes we do group exercises where we use the design thinking to develop, for example, what a perfect dinner would be like. There are simple and specific questions you can apply the design thinking, and other larger and more significant, “says Speicher.
Saúl Loriente Rodríguez, founder and director of Design Thiking Spain -a company specialized in design thinking, whose website is the page in Spanish with more information about design thinking– do you agree.
Loriente, who began his career as an advertising creative and now dedicates himself to brand strategy, defines the design thinking like a “innovation methodology focused on creating solutions”.
“In a process of design thinking parts of a problem – which we call a challenge – and you have to find a solution. And we can be talking about any type of product or service, from an improvement in a shared car system to a family trip “, adds Loriente.
The most important thing, says the specialist, is that take into account the people it affects that problem (and for whom you are going to design a solution).
A vital question: who are you designing for?
“A very important question of design thinking is that always we put people at the center, to userss. It is vital to understand the user for whom you design, to generate solutions to their problems or needs and to implement them, “Loriente explains to BBC Mundo.
“The idea is to find a quick and inexpensive solution that you can show the user, and then, through their feedback, get clues so that you can go knowing if you are on the right track (we call that prototyping) “, sums up Loriente.
“This means that when you design solutions, you don’t do it thinking about intuitions or your own ideas, but rather you observe e-investigationto the people for whom you are going to design“says Loriente.
Speicher adds that it is vital to ask ourselves not just who we are designing for, but who we are designing with, “and to include that person (or people) in the design process.”
The creative process: imagine possibilities
“There is often talk of design thinking as a process, it always begins with an issue to be resolved, “says Speicher.
“We were all educated with different kinds of science. We learned a scientific way of thinking, which is the scientific method: to examine the world, to analyze it, to elaborate hypotheses. It is a basic process that also exists in design and that begins with a question:what can you do better and how to better understand what people experience and need? “
“We synthesize all that in imaginary possibilitiesWhat if the world looked like this? What if this product were like this? What if a service were this other way? As part of that process, we test ideas with people, and then we iterate, “Speicher explains.
Then, Speicher says, we seek inspiration by covering all angles of the question, looking at how it was approached before, and listening to the person we designed for.
“In essence, it is a very collaborative process which involves understanding people, imagining new possibilities, trying and learning things, receiving feedback and repeat constantly, “says the designer.
On many websites specialized in design thinking there is talk of a process of four, five, six and up to 10 different steps.
The first is usually based on the empathysays Speicher, “because listening and understanding is vital to asking the right question and seeking inspiration.”
But the IDEO directive stresses that it is not always necessary to follow a linear structure.
However, if you want to have a reference, you can follow this scheme:
- (EMPATHIZE) Ask a question: think about who you design for.
- (DEFINE) Seek inspiration: go out into the world to seek inspiration, observe, discover.
- (IDEA) Generate ideas– Use inspiration beyond the obvious to find new solutions.
- (PROTOTYPE) Make ideas tangible– Create preliminary prototypes and find out what works and what doesn’t.
- (TEST) Trial and error: test your prototypes, iterate (repeat taking into account the feedback).
- Share the story– Once you find the right solution, build and share the story to present to your colleagues and clients.
“We can use these steps to structure our thoughts, but we must remember that we are not limited to that sequence.”
“We are always listening, learning, creating, iterating and imagining. All of those capabilities come into play all the time,” adds Speicher.
Let’s see an example …
“Imagine, for example, that what you want to do is improve the use of a car-sharing service and promote its use by young people,” says Loriente.
We start with empathize and observe: “If you approach it from the design thikingIn the first part of that process, you will interview young people or observe them to see what is really lacking in the car-sharing system. “
And here we come to definition: “Suppose that, of all that you investigate and find, it seems to you that the most interesting thing is that young people see a problem when parking because they have to spend more money, since they take longer,” adds Loriente.
Then we are in the ideation phase: “Now that you have discovered that – and that you are going to focus on that problem – is when you start to generate solutions. in a feature in the application that advises a user where to park “.
Now comes the prototyping: “It is about materializing the ideas that have occurred to you, but in a very simple way. For example, instead of redesigning the entire application or the new functionality that you have thought about, what you do is make a drawing, what we call a wireframe (visual guide) “.
“You do it quickly and cheaply, but visually grounded enough so that the user can understand what you are proposing,” explains the creative.
Finally, the validation: “You show the user what you have come up with for him, and he tells you what he thinks. If it seems perfect, you go on to produce that solution. Otherwise, you learn from what he has told you, and you already have a starting point to make an improved version of the solution “.
An innovative mindset
Loriente says that the design thinking forever promotes creativity because one of its phases is aimed at generating new ideas.
He stresses that an important characteristic to develop that creativity is having an innovative mindset.
“An innovative mindset is creative, has initiative Y nor you are so afraid to be wrong. A creative mindset likes to explore new relationships between things, works as a team and takes nothing for granted. “
Design thinking is a way of helping us to be creative, to bring out that creativity that we all have and put it to the test “.
Loriente says that if you learn to have an innovative mindset, you will be able to better adopt any design process or that involves innovation and, at the same time, put the desing thinking it can help you develop the characteristics of an innovative mind.
For Speicher, the key is to prioritize creativity.
“There are methods and there are ways of thinking. That is, there are the things we do and the way we guide them, how we structure our minds to find creative leaps“, dice memory.
“The main reason we develop design processes is not because they give us the answer to a problem, but because they are the matrix for the creative process; they allow us prioritize ourto creativity“.
“The design thinking it’s a way to help us be creative, to bring that creativity out and put it to the test. “
“Todo the world have the ability to be creative, everyone can design. You just have to dare to put it into practice. “
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.