In the wise words of Elvis:
“A little less conversation, a little more action, please…”
There is an awful lot of hype concerning Design Thinking and how it can facilitate innovation. Understandably, Design Thinking is exciting because it offers a toolset for creativity to people who wouldn’t typically identify themselves as creative. The process fosters collaboration across multiple disciplines, breaking the typical silos of the corporate organizational structure. While Design Thinking is undeniably powerful, it means little if no proper action follows after.
When it comes to innovation, the biggest plus lies in the emphasis it puts on involving the customer and on prototyping together in a co-creative environment. However, when reading about Design Thinking most non-designers tend to question how to put it into action. It seems like getting to the implementation looks cumbersome and challenging. Sometimes, they are left alone to implement without the help of the facilitators.
The Design Thinking Process can also be looooooooong and expensive for small companies. Often without any certainty of the final results.
Need for speed
With the rise of Lean Startup Methods and Agile Methodologies, the development of new products can be done much faster, more cost-effective and with much better results.
There are many advocates proclaiming Design Thinking still the best process for innovation; others believe that it might not be the best solution for bringing successful digital products to market. At least not in a fast manner. In today’s world, Time-to-Market seems to be a key factor in the do-or-die for many digital products. The Startup world had made very clear that to bring successful digital products to market requires not only thinking but also a lot of doing.
Don’t get me wrong; it is evident that with Design Thinking you do a lot of prototyping and testing, which in essence is a lot of doing, but the iterations can drag incessantly without end. In some cases, there endless examples of companies hitting the market with digital products that became irrelevant during its long development time, burning obscene amounts of money in the process. We’ve seen this particularly with a lot of Enterprise software. The adoption of agile methodologies still not the norm for a lot of companies developing software and throwing Design Thinking in the mix can quickly make the process even slower.
The best of both worlds
Design Thinking, Agile Methods, and Lean Startup when well orchestrated can be a powerful way to develop new digital products.
Within the Design Thinking phases (depending on the version you use), when it comes to EMPATHIZE > DEFINE > IDEATE perhaps is the best process to follow. The initial user research, empathy maps, service blueprint and other tools, offer an excellent context in which to frame the problem and possible solutions to explore.
PROTOTYPE > TEST can be done much better using Lean Startup Methods, which includes PROBLEM VALIDATION and SOLUTION VALIDATION while concordantly testing the assumptions in a way that is closer to the market and in a much more cost-efficient way. It’s not about throwing something on the wall and see if it sticks, but rather changing directions based on evidence of user and market adoption in a faster pace.
Finally, when is time develop the product AGILE goes hand in hand with methods like Lean UX and any further product refinement over time. When developing for speed, there is a lot of uncertainty to take into account. Trying to mitigate or reduce risk, results in a more costly and time-consuming development time.
How we get to the best product will be determined by a lot of factors other than just the process or the combination of them. The best way to create innovation starts by knowing and accepting that there is no “best way to create innovation.” But one thing remains true: Talk less, do more.
About the Author(s)
Juan Tejeda is the Managing Director of digital business design agency Brains & Hearts (www.brainsandhearts.de). A forward-thinking designer and strategist, he specializes in innovation and business development.