Design Thinking: Where Empathy is the Mother of Invention

Published December 9th, 2020 - 01:59 GMT
Design Thinking: Where Empathy is the Mother of Invention
Design Thinking combines both design and innovation in a way that makes businesses more successful and productive by saving money, time and resources. (Shutterstock)

One of the most instrumental parts of any business is building strong and long-lasting relationships with customers. However, with the business world changing rapidly, this can be quite a challenge. In order to overcome this challenge and work on bridging the gap between producers and consumers, many businesses turn to what is called, Design Thinking. 

"Design Thinking is a human-centered approach that focuses on understanding the customer before developing the product." - Tim Brown.

What makes Design Thinking appealing and successful is the fact that it empathizes on customer's needs and wants to give the best solution or product. By knowing the needs of the user, businesses are able to come up with a product that is both desirable and feasible. This concept entails five main stages: 

  1. Empathizing

At the core of Design Thinking lies empathy. This is the most imperative part and it is what differentiates it from other design processes. By using Design Thinking, businesses put themselves in the customer’s shoes in order to determine what customers really want.

  1. Defining

It’s time to accumulate the information gathered during the Empathize stage. You then analyze your observations and synthesize them to define the core problems you and your team have identified. These definitions are called problem statements. 

  1. Ideating

This stage involves coming up with ideas that are unusual. While many processes focus on convergent thinking to solve problems, Design Thinking encourages being divergent and creating new ideas and choices. Creativity and innovation are at the key parts of Design Thinking. 

  1. Prototyping:

Ideas are prototyped for testing in order to find optimal solutions. 

  1. Testing:

Since Design Thinking is iterative, as testing continues, results are used to redefine problems until the best solution is found. 

Unlike traditional design processes, Design Thinking focuses on user experience. Tim Brown says, design may have its greatest impact when it is taken out of the hands of the designers and put into the hands of everyone. Through the power of empathy in Design Thinking,  innovative, meaningful and productive products and solutions are created through the participation of both customer and producer. Design Thinking also serves as an inspirational tool that challenges old ways of thinking by encouraging organizations to focus on creative problem-solving. 

Design Thinking combines both design and innovation in a way that makes businesses more successful and productive by saving money, time and resources. Some reports suggest that internal communication as well as communication with customers increased by 28% and 45%, respectively, for businesses that adopted design and innovation. Furthermore, design and innovation have helped reduce costs by 25% while increasing profits by 48%. 

It is important for businesses to shift their focus to Design Thinking, as conventional methods are becoming obsolete. In a world that is changing fast, innovative and divergent ideas are crucial not only to survive, but to thrive as well in a competitive consumer-centric world.

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