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Innovation Through Design Thinking

By: Marisa White

Moving into the experience economy where organizations compete on experience over singular product or service, a need for innovation becomes apparent. However, this is much easier said than done. Innovation has been thrown around like slang and lost significant impact in many organizations. However, the core of innovation is highly relevant, take a look at the below:

      Innovate (verb)

  1. make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products
  2. introduce (something new, especially a product).

Design thinking is a mindset for solving complex problems. Originally stemming from the design process, design thinking challenges leaders, individuals, and organizations to think like a designer---with your client at the heart and with a reiterative process of prototyping and testing at the core. In recent years, Design Thinking has grown to become an ambiguous term, particularly relating to its application in modern business.

Many organizations have their own definition of the exact process of Design Thinking they are employing, but universally has an accepted set of principals that are a part of the Design Thinking process. You can see a reference in the below graphic.

Empathy: The heart of Human-Centered Design at large, empathy drives a deeper connection between your customer, employee, and people into process, product, and service. Particularly important in regards to innovation, prioritizing a qualitative relationship with the customer experience produces changes that are relevant and drive revenue.

Ideation: This may seem the obvious connection to Innovation, but what is unique about this step applied in design thinking as it typically emphasizes a large degree of co-creation across silos. It is incredibly easy to create ideas in a funnel, however, actually ideating in a group setting of all relevant stakeholders reduces margins of errors and creates end product/service/method with a closer step towards the customer

Prototype: Prototyping requires getting your said idea into some realm of reality as quickly as possible. This requires a level of innovation in its own as oftentimes teams must push themselves to create a low-fidelity (i.e. paper, pipe cleaners, drawings) to immediately get your hands on the product

Test: Get it in front of the customer, peers, anyone (within reason)! So often, the prototypes and following products are created and the earlier you can identify potential pain points and errors, the easier it becomes to redirect efforts and make changes, leading to a seamless release.  

Reiteration: The job is never finished. At each step of design thinking there is an opportunity to circle backwards to continue to refine the product at hand 

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