Design Thinking In Product Development

Design Thinking In Product Development

What is the Design Thinking Approach?


Embracing designing thinking means understanding that the customer is a real person with real problems, rather than a sales target. Instead of traditional market-research data, design thinkers dig for data that are user driven and offer a deep understanding of a customer’s sophisticated needs. Design thinking helps reframe questions in a way that expands the boundaries of the search itself.

“Big businesses can be really offensive, demanding a level of efficiency that is good for today but bad for tomorrow. The pressure is relentless, but the battle is often uninspired.”

The need is to inculcate a way of thinking that can spur inspiration and innovation even in the most traditional of workplaces. It is called design thinking, and it’s simply a different approach to problem solving. Design thinking nurtures creativity, which is not as random as you think.

The Design Thinking Approach

Let us take the example of Procter & Gamble who were hellbent on improving detergents used to clean floors. That particular focus was limiting. Design thinking pointed out them to a better answer, a better mop. And hence was born the unique Swiffler.

It is all about structured brainstorming, which uses the data collected during the discovery phase as input, then converts output into something valuable.

Design thinking works to make marketplace testing practical by engaging customers in the act of building a new product. You need to create as vivid an experience as possible. You are engaging the customer to get at their needs. It is not a dress rehearsal. Unlike traditional marketplace thinking, design thinking expects to get it wrong. You experiment and then you figure out why it works or not. The goal is to fail early to succeed sooner. Actively look for data that proves the product will not work. It is valuable information for saving money and zeroing in on how to make products that do work.


“Design Thinking” is a design methodology primarily branded by the product design firm IDEO. It consists of both a process and a set of values.

The process is generally defined to be:

1. Observe: This phase is dominated by “needfinding,” a process by which designers go out and observe users participating in activities that inform the area in which you are designing. This can include just observing, or interviews.

2. Understand: Analysis of the data collected through observation, attempting to understand the user’s deeper motivations, feelings and values.

3. Define: Define a point of view (POV) on the problem, that directs your understanding of what you are trying to design.

4. Ideate: This generally consists of a variety of brainstorming techniques to come up with new ideas.

5. Prototype: Build out ideas in a physical form.

6. Test: Bring your prototypes to users to get feedback to revise and adjust your prototypes.

Design thinking dispels the belief that only someone special can part the seas and create like the “Moses Myth.” It arms even the most traditional thinker with ways to blossom creatively. Those include tools that allow to see possible future conditions to journey mapping that is nothing but assessing things through the eyes of a customer.

Another well-recognized image of design thinking is the brainstorm, complete with post-it notes and whiteboards. The list of “brainstorming rules” often used by design thinkers is as follows:

1. Defer Judgement: This is the grand poo-bah of brainstorming rules in a design thinker’s mind.

2. Quantity over quality: Hand in hand, rather than try to come up with the BEST idea, just go for whatever comes to your mind.

3. Encourage wild ideas: Write down everything, even the wacky ideas that would never work (you never know what would spur someone else).

4. One conversation at a time: Don’t talk over each other, read out your ideas, and listen to what others are saying.

5. Build on the ideas of others: Intake ideas and keep the useful ones.

6. Warm-up: start with a small exercise to get people’s minds working.

7. Visualize it: Don’t write it, draw it. (see above in the “be visual” value)

8. Provide focus: this is where the POV (point of view) becomes useful – by focusing your brainstorm to come up with good ideas.

So, the question you should ask yourself is: ” What is design for you? The way it looks or the way it works.”


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