Chapter 2: Design Thinking

Design thinking. A term which is gaining more popularity than the Kardashians. Do not believe it? Design Thinking is implementing at every innovative workplace around the globe. This is so big that Stanford has opened a d.School to just focus on Design Thinking. I hope now you have my attention.

Now you must be thinking that what makes Design Thinking so popular. Let me tell you what is Design Thinking, and why is it so popular. Design Thinking is a methodology used by creative designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. Design Thinking incorporates the best of all popular methodologies including Lean Startup, Agile and Customer Relationship Management.

Design Thinking lets you build a product focused on customers needs in multiple but fast iterations through eliminating all unnecessary waste.

This is the zest of Design Thinking. There are 5 major steps in a Design Thinking process.

Design Thinking

Empathize. This is the first step where you will be interacting with all your potential customers. If you are thinking what is the point to go to a customer when you do not have any product, then you are not alone.

However, talking with your customers is the best way to verify all your assumptions and test your hypothesis. Since they are the whole reason why you are building this product, you should always make them your priority. Also, empathizing with the customers will help you understand their problems, their frustration, the work around they are using to solve the problem.

First step would be to interview your customers. Always try to cover various segment and demographics to get a more broad idea. Since this interview is your first conversation with the customers so be very open and receptive. You should ask the customers about their experience with the problem and hear everything they say. The most frustrated customers are generally the one who provide most information (not always though).

The next step would be to schedule another interview with few of those customers to dig deeper in all those challenging and engaging insights you found during the first interview.

The final step would be to capture all those important insights and deduce the actual Customer’s Need (Problems which they are most frustrated about and the thing for which they do not have an good work around) and any other Insights or new learning from the whole process.

Define. Defining a problem statement is the most crucial part of design thinking. You are deciding on which problem you want to solve and why.

The problem statement should focus on fill in the blanks for the below statements.

_______________ (customer) needs a way to __________ (customer’s need). Unexpectedly in his/her world, _______________. (insights)

Once you fill this sentence, this will help you in defining the problem statement in a simpler way.

Ideate. Now, you are at the most creative and innovative part of the process. You will create few sketches which you think will meet your user’s needs in any radical ways.

Why sketches? Every time I say sketches, I hear someone shouting that they really suck at sketching. Lucky for those this step will be an added advantages.

This is a stage where you draw numerous sketches with all your wild imagination. But this is also the stage where you will gather a lot of initial feedback about the product from your customers. Having a messy sketch will only instigate them to ask more questions about your product. Moreover, people will feel more comfortable providing feedback looking at the sketches than looking at the actual product. The reason is people do not feel comfortable calling all your hard-work, a Failure.

This is also the time to share your solutions and capture the customers feedback. But remember, the way you answer their questions is also really important. You should not answer all their questions instantneously but rather ask them what answers are they expecting from the product. For example: if they ask you where is the menu then you should ask where you think it should be. This will help you gain more insights about the customers expectation from the product.

Then reflect of those insights and keep revising your sketch to generate a new product. Iterate based on feedback is the key for success. Remeber it is better to create 100 messy sketches than to create one failed product.

Prototype. Building a prototype is the most exciting part of design thinking. You will have the opportunity to finally build the solution you long wanted. However, the equally important part of this process to test your product among your custoemrs. After all they are the one whole will be buying it. A lot of people have different defination for prototypes. Few think of prototypes as just a demo product however, other think of prototypes as

There are two major types of prototypes. The Form prototype looks more like the final product or service but it doesn’t perform at all. The Function prototype operates similar to the final product or service but it doesn’t look like the final product. Both prototype has its own advantages. Form prototype will help you gather information about the user experiences and the look and feel, and the function prototype will help in gathering more information about the product’s functionalities.

Test. In most situations, prototyping and testing the product with the customers is an combined and iterative process. You should share your solution with the customers and get their feedback about the product. This phase will help you gather following information about the product. What worked in the product, What could be improved, Do the customer have questions and finally, Do the customers have any idea.

You will build an prototype and then test the product and keep reiterating it till you find your MVP.

Hurrah! You have your MVP ready. In the real world, this whole process can take weeks or even months. But you should not feel disappointed. As promised, I am here to help you find everything you need.

Here comes our next hero Agile who will help us understand and measure the process efficiency of all the iterations. It will also help us plan and prioritize the features. My new blog will be available soon.


If you want to uncover few more mysteries behind all the success in Silicon Valley, please follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn or GitHub or checkout my website viploveprakash.com.