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Discovering opportunities to meet your customer’s needs in adverse and uncertain times

In uncertain times, it can be hard to focus. Hard to focus on doing the right thing for your organisation and the needs of your customers. That’s no more true than the times we find ourselves in now, overcoming the impact of and measures taken to combat the current coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19. When the status quo is dynamic and continually on the change, there’s little point planning too far ahead.

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So how can design thinking help you and your organisation ?

Design thinking is extremely powerful at tackling ill defined or unknown problems.

  • What ways could you still make your products available to them ?
  • Could you change your production line to produce a hand sanitiser instead ?
  • How could you help them and their customers stay fit and healthy ?
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So what are the principles to follow when design thinking your way through uncertainty?

Humans first

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So what does design thinking look like in theory ?

But first, Diverge & Converge

A key aspect of design thinking is the premise of divergent and convergent thinking. This forces us to diverge, think of lots of ideas that help us broaden our thinking and innovate, before we converge on a smaller set of more discrete ideas.


Empathising is the process of understanding and observing the human needs of your existing or future customers and users.


Defining a point of view is the process of analyzing the information you know about your users and their most important problems. This is where you’ll start to focus.


Create many ideas, diverging through brainstorming and challenging any assumptions identified during empathising and defining, to find alternative solutions to the problem. Then, converge on innovative solutions that have potential to solve the problems your customer has that are potentially loveable, feasible, viable and valuable.


Create solutions as discrete experiments that you’ll later test with your users.


Gather feedback from your users by testing your solution experiments with them. The feedback and results from your experiments will create a body of evidence that builds your confidence and validates your offering.

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So how can I Implement design thinking in my business ?

Well the great thing is, you can start straight away. There’s practically nothing stopping you from adopting design thinking principles to get to know your customers, create solutions, run experiments and gather evidence.




Generate & Diverge

  • Run a series of 60 second sketches where each participant in the ideation session draws as many sketches as they can of potential solutions to the defined problem :
  • Look for the variants in any of the generated ideas from above sessions and expand the solutions
  • Simulate creativity to find more diverse ideas with the SCAMPER technique :
  • Create hypothesis statements that follow a pattern such as — We believe that (changing this) for (this or these people) will result in (this outcome) — and position these under the appropriate opportunity on the opportunity solution tree you started in Define
  • Look for the biggest riskiest items that look promising but could fail miserably, and prioritise those for testing and validating or dismissing
  • Dot vote the ideas and promote those with most votes as early prototypes to test
  • Share your ideas with your customers and users to get their feedback on your potential solutions. Prioritise those that receive positive feedback — but beware, customers may not always behave the way they say!



In Summary

Your customers’ needs change all the time, but never more so than in times as unprecedented as those we’re experiencing now. Their world, which means your world in which you service them, has been turned upside down and inside out.

Paul heads up Cariboo Digital, a micro consultancy delivering digital solutions to customer problems through continuous discovery and user centred design

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