New to Design Thinking? Here is an Easy Guide to make you a Pro

What do you do when you see a problem? Well we tend to start thinking of ways we can fix the problem at hand. This causes us to start creating ideas in our minds that we eventually hope come to fruition. So basically we start to design solutions no matter how far-fetched they seem at the time. Some of the craziest ideas have become things we use every single day. When trying to find a problem and a solution start with a beginner’s mindset, even if you know everything about the topic at hand pretend like you don’t. We all have opinions and assumptions that shape the way we see the world and face problems, which can ultimately hinder the designer process. Starting with a beginner’s mindset will help to start with a blank mind so to speak. Once you have identified a problem from a clean slate you are able to start the designing. There are 5 different modes in the design thinking process, that lead us to solve the problems we see in society.

What’s Your Problem?

It is likely the problem you are trying to solve may not be one you face your-self, rather one you see others face. The first mode in the design process is to empathize, or basically put your- self into someone else’s shoes and view the world through their eyes. To be able to effectively empathize you must observe, emerge, and immerse. You have to first see a problem you wish to fix and observe how it affects society. You then must interact with those it affects, in both planned ways and spontaneous events. Lastly immersing yourself in what others are experiencing will help you gain a better perspective on the problem at hand. Being able to see the problem you are facing in many different ways will not only help you find an effective solution, but also help the user in the long run.

In this mode there are several different methods that will help to aid you. When observing the problem, you are trying to fix use the What? How? Why? Method. This allows you to start with an observation, and dive deeper into how the problem works and affects its users, and why the problem even exists. You can also use a camera study to literally see the world through the user’s eyes, it can increase your level of empathy. Lastly you can directly interview the users. Ask their opinions on the topic so that you can get and even better idea of the problem and what solutions might actually work. There are many other methods such as:

· Using extreme users

· Sharing stories with other team members

· Create an empathy map

· Saturate and group your thoughts

Find what works best for you and your team, keeping in mind the problem you are trying to solve.

Time to Define

Once you have observed and been able to interact with a problem you have to actually define it. This is not just stating the problem but defining it through your own point of view so that you can effectively find a remedy. It will help you to create a space to design your solutions and better understand the users that the problem effects.

Get Creative

The way to fix a problem is to find and design a solution, which is where the ideate mode comes into play. This is the mode where you start to come up with ideas about how to best solve the problem based on your previous interactions with users. These ideas can be as normal or as abnormal as you want. There is no wrong answer because a crazy solution could lead you to the idea of another one. When in this mode be sure that you are thinking of the users and their experiences and what you can do to best solve the problem. This is about thinking out side of the box and possibly inside the box, because sometimes less is more.

During the ideation process there are several tools that can help to better create effective ideas. One being the power of ten methods. This helps to look at your problem at different magnitudes. Power of ten methods also helps to restart the brainstorming process when it gets a little dead. It will allow you to ask more questions so you can generate new solutions or throw out ones that will not work anymore. Another method you can use is the 2x2 matrix, which allows you to look at different relationships in your design process. It will help you to scale the solutions you have. There are many other methods that will help to aid your ideation process like:

· Point- of- view madlib

· Point- of — view analogy

· Point- of — view want ad

· Critical reading checklist

Start Moving

With all of these ideas coming about there is bound to be a few that really stand out and this is when you need to start prototyping the solutions. This does not mean you have to build them necessarily, just think deeper into them. Prototyping can take the form of post it notes, drawings, and even a storyboard. Be as creative as you want but make sure the prototype is the best one for the solution. This mode helps designers to better understand their possible solution and the users it will aid. It also gives you an early on look as to whether this idea is good or not. There are four main reasons why designers prototype are:

1. To be able to learn

2. To solve disagreements

3. To facilitate a conversation

4. To fail quickly and cheaply

5. To manage the solution building process

Like previously stated prototyping does not necessarily mean creating a rough draft of your solutions so to speak. It can mean that you body storm, which is when you physically experience a situation to help brainstorm new solutions. Sometimes solutions can’t always be found through discussion, getting up and moving will help you to gain a new perspective. Once you have brainstormed you will likely have way more ideas that you have time create, which means you have to select the best ones to prototype. There are many different reasons that we prototype our brainstormed solutions, one being for empathy. You may have interviewed an observed but prototyping a solution might allow you to see a new level to the problem that you couldn’t have before. It will allow you to see deeper into a certain area of the problem instead of the big picture. We also prototype to test, which allows the users to actually get a hands on experience with your solution. It can shed light on problems with the solution and allow you to learn from your mistakes. Lastly we prototype to decide which solutions work and which do not. There are many other methods of prototyping we can use to help facilitate the process, such as:

· A feedback capture grid

· A wizard of oz prototype

· A user-driven prototype

The Final Test

The last and final mode of the design process is to test your solution. This mode can also go hand in hand with the prototyping mode, since you will likely be going back and forth between the two. You may test a prototype and realize there is a problem. Or you might test a prototype and it leads you to a new idea for an even better solution. Don’t think that once you have reached this step you can’t go back, because you can. Testing your ideas on those that it will aid leads you to be a better designer, the first solution likely won’t be the one that sticks. But it is important to get feedback in this mode so that you can ideate and prototype better. It gives you the opportunity to find and fix kinks in your solution. Testing can also help to reframe your point of view. Maybe you were looking at your problem all wrong and this first test can help you see that, to help you better move forward. One of the best ways to get feedback from your users is to use the I like, I wish, What if method. It goes something like this “I like that we planned before we meet today. I wish we had discussed a little bit more about this topic. What if we broke into groups to gain a new perspective?” This method lets you interact and get feedback from your team without causing tension.

Now it’s Your Turn

All in all, we see problems every day in society and often think that we can fix them but rarely have the motivation to do so. The design thinking process makes finding solutions seem a little less daunting. There are simple steps to take and many different paths you can go down to find the best solution. Each design process is not going to look the same, it would be harmful if it did. So the next time you see a problem that you want to fix, act on it. Start thinking of solutions and observing users. You may just create the next big thing.

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