Why Design Thinking boosts your innovation

If you create new services or products, you do not only need a healthy portion of creativity, but also a way to bring it together. In her recent article in Harvard Business Review, Jane Liedtka describes why Design Thinking works so well.

It is more than Agile
We all know the Agile / Scrum way of working. This is a method for quickly and with customer feedback iteratively in steps to design a product in short sprints. You will see faster and better how the product will look like. Before you start it, of course, it must be clear what you are going to solve and why. So you often use customer journey and persona in the prior analysis.

Design Thinking is going to help you
You also need a creative phase to come up with your product and proposition. And there Design Thinking will help you. “What will the new product do and why?” you then translate into an Epic and User stories. So if you are a Product Owner in this Agile approach, it is important to do your homework first and involve your target group and your team.

Ask the right questions
With new products or services you have to make sure that you have 3 things well done: (1) cherish true innovation, (2) know and limit the development risks, (3) make sure your organization cooperates. For innovation, it is mainly about asking the question behind the question. So think carefully about which customer questions and strategic questions you will address with your team, and how you approach the customer interviews. You need that part of the floor to get to the core of what the customer is concerned with and what you want to develop a solution for as an organization. Once you have determined your design criteria for your new product, you will work on creative solutions.

Participation and a joint approach 
To avoid that you end up in a cozy creative chaos, or just fall back on the old pattern, you need a method. And above all, an approach that takes people along and is part of the change. You do this by walking through a number of steps and sharing what you have learned. Design Thinking has described those phases, so use them in particular.

Experimenting together
Another striking difference is that you deliberately keep your prototypes simple so that the customer panel can improve them. That starts with telling or briefly describing on paper or, for example, drawing a comic about what the idea entails and does. You can also create a real-life experience by making a 3D version with simple materials or pop-up a test lab.
By experimenting you also help people to experience how the new product can look like. And if you do it together, it also gives them more confidence in a good result. And if they believe in it, then they will also go for it.

Experience the difference
The traditional way of product development is based on your organisation’s internal expertise and the analysis of collected behavioural customer data. With Design Thinking you will be talking much more with the customer to better understand what is needed. As a result, you can explain customer behavior better and you can better interpret the data analysis.
Then you work together as a product owner or developer on a product concept that gives you more cohesion as a team, with more input. And the methodology helps you deal with old knowledge (experiences and assumptions) and internal contradictions. It may be a challenge to get started for the first time, but it does give you a kick when you see that it works better!

Read the full article Why Design Thinking Works from Jane Liedtka on Harvard Business Review