Digital Transformation Series Part 2: Design Thinking

Welcome to the next session on the Digital Transformation. We saw in the previous article the importance of organizations needing to be digitally capable in the era of digital disruptions. Digital transformation presents problems that are complex and undefined. So, using Design Thinking to embrace your organization’s digital transformation helps tackle these problems by using a fluid, flexible, hands-on approach to interact with consumers and come up with solutions.

In this article we will look into an important concept relevant to digital transformation known as design thinking. Design thinking helped to transform Airbnb from a failing start-up to a very successful billion-dollar business!

So, what is design thinking?

“Design thinking draws on logic, imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning to explore the possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer).

A design mind-set is not problem-focused, it’s solution-focused, and action-oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination. Design thinking is linked to an improved future and seeks to build ideas up—unlike critical thinking, which breaks them down.” Per Linda Naiman, Founder of Creativity at Work.

The following visual is one of the best ways to describe the Design Thinking process:

For the innovator, the design thinking approach looks to minimize the uncertainty and risk of innovation by using collective intelligence through a series of lenses to grow their understanding of customer needs. By also engaging with customers or users actively throughout the process using a series of prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts, you end up far closer to customer understanding through this dialoguing, exchanging and growing intimacy to help uncover their needs.

Exploring design thinking for digital transformation

Design thinking is made up of five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

Empathize- A critical element to digital transformation is creating an excellent experience for the customer. To do this effectively, it is important to empathize with them to understand their motivations, needs and pain points. The problems we are solving are seldom our own, so we shouldn’t presume to know how the customer will act. Truly gaining a deep understanding of where the customer’s friction points are along the digital journey will get you the information you need to successfully solve their issues.

Define – The define stage brings clarity to the problems you are trying to solve. The insight gained from the empathize stage will help you pinpoint where to focus your time and energy. The problem statement should be focused on a specific issue and geared toward the user. We are trying to help our customers because we truly want them to have a good experience.

Ideate – Now that we have a definitive problem, it’s time to generate some ideas on how to fix it. In this phase, it is important to brainstorm by using the collective minds of a group in order to develop a variety of creative ideas. Don’t just use your team, but work cross-functionally in a highly collaborative setting.

Prototype – Here, the team will experiment with a variety of simple and inexpensive models aimed to quickly test and validate your solution ideas. Prototypes should be tested on a small set of users — either with usability testing or on a narrow selection of your site visitors. Observe the way people interact with the prototype, then collect feedback and use this information to adjust and optimize the next model. This phase should be very fast-paced, with quick and efficient improvements

Test – Continuously testing your various prototypes is an opportunity to constantly improve. Every interaction with a customer is a learning opportunity to enhance the customer experience. In the testing phase, you capture the information needed to revisit previous stages in the design thinking process.As Leonardo Da Vinci allegedly said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Our quest to better the customer experience is never complete — we should be continuously testing and optimizing to come up with new ideas to improve.

Who all uses Design Thinking?

Innovators, Strategists, Designers and Educators and anyone who is a keen problem solver by nature.

How to implement Design Thinking?

We will discus some common tools or approaches here.

Personas – Originated from the world of UX. Personas are fictional characters, which you create based upon your research in order to represent the different user types that might use your service, product, site, or brand in a similar way. Creating personas will help you to understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviors and goals. Creating personas can help you step out of yourself. It can help you to recognize that different people have different needs and expectations, and it can also help you to identify with the user you’re designing for. Personas make the design task at hand less complex, they guide your ideation processes, and they can help you to achieve the goal of creating a good user experience for your target user group.

Empathy Maps –An empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in decision making.

I hope this article allows you to get a look and feel on the concept of design thinking and how this helps with overall digital transformation.

If you like what you see and want to learn more reach out to us and we will help you with your digital transformation efforts.

About the Author: Ram Kollengode is an agile coach and digital transformational consultant with more than 30 years of experience across a variety of sectors like Banking, Insurance, Telcom etc. Ram is passionate about agile mindset and enjoys time mentoring and training on embracing agility.


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