Everyone’s a designer these days
In a recent article published in the Harvard review. Tim Brown, CEO of the global design company IDEO, argues that in order to succeed today businesses must embrace innovation and the best way to do this is to think like a designer.
Design thinking is not the product of a ‘lone genius’ nor is it the reserve of trendy types in turtle neck sweaters. It is a process that uses a designer’s sensibility to match a real need with a viable business case and turn it into an opportunity which will ultimately deliver value.
The article cites examples of how IDEO used this methodology to help a US healthcare provider save time and staff resources while increasing patient contact. They also worked with a Japanese bicycle manufacturer to develop a new type of bicycle designed for ‘coasting’. Rekindling the American public’s childhood love of cycling and getting more of them back onto two wheels.
The design thinking process has three phases:
A project begins by assembling the project team. This is made up of designers, project managers, clients, writers, and other specialists. Although roles and responsibilities are defined everyone contributes and the approach is one optimism, honesty and openness. The entire team understands who the target audience is and what their needs are. Initial research is undertaken and inspiration sought from a variety of sources.
Here initial ideas are discussed and explored – many are rejected but the process continues until, collectively, the team decides upon ideas worth further development. The chosen idea is then developed through sketches and prototyping. It is then tested, tweaked and refined until a solution is reached.
The execution phase – bringing together the concept and the creative into the chosen outputs. Close attention is paid to detail and quality.
This collaborative approach ensures buy-in at all stages of a project and builds a sense of ownership amongst the entire team. And because clients are involved in the process they understand the rationale behind the thinking and how and why solutions are reached.
I agree with Tim Brown when he says design should not just be seen as just adding a veneer or aesthetics. Design is more effective when it is introduced earlier in the life of a project and there is more chance of success when everyone thinks like a designer.