Quick guide to the business value of design thinking

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Design thinking has generated a lot of buzz over the last couple of years. Yet despite the buzz and a lot of evidence showing that design thinking investments enhance customer experience and address business problems, a lot of designers are still challenged to define the financial benefits and return on investment on a design thinking approach to solving problems and innovating.

So here is what the designer should say:

1. The right product and service for the right people.

Of the 30,000 or so new consumer products launched each year, some 40 percent fail.* Using a design thinking process can help you avoid falling into this category. Design thinking helps you create a product that is meaningful for your users. Using prototypes, wireframes and visual tests in a concept and design process, you can test with your users what works best. You can get a feel for and knowledge of what your users are asking for and need. Put your users at the center and empathize with their needs and wishes and you will make the right product and service that people will buy and use.

2. Be right the first time and save money

You get an early assessment and justification of your concepts and ideas. In a concept phase, you can push the best ideas forward and choose which directions are optimal in terms of your business, your user needs and possibilities with the technology available. It gives you a much better overview and enables you to create the best products. It can be very expensive if you need to change direction when in production. So, if you have tested and made prototypes before production, you are surer that the production will go smoothly and free of costly surprises.

3. Reduce go-to-market and quickly validate business opportunities.

Reduced go-to-market time delivers a competitive advantage that enables you to outpace rivals or react more quickly to change. Design thinking can be used for rapid iteration to reduce development cycle time and quickly validate new business opportunities. It will help you do co-creation with key partners, employees and end-users to accelerate innovation; and lean methods to build minimal viable products (MVPs) that are released quickly and tested with customers to gather input for further product development iterations.

*Castellion, G. & Markham, S. K. (2013). “Perspective: New product failure rates: In uence of argumentum ad populum and self-interest.” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30(5), 976–979).