All the persons that have ever attended any business school have learned to approach cases through 5 steps: Situation Analysis, Problem definition, Alternatives exposition, Implementation, and proposed contingency plan. So what’s the problem with that? No problem as long as you’re in the class room with the case in your hand and all the data and the charts of the world presented for you.
In real life things don’t work this way. You are in front of a situation, there’s never enough data at hand and you should be able to be more creative and design and implement a new strategy.
Here comes the design thinking method. Most of you are probably asking what is design thinking? It sounds very “Artsy”, I know, but I believe that it will be the new case method that will be followed by most managers.
The first step of the design thinking process is Defining the Issue at hand, the parties affected, and the desired solution. What differentiates it from the traditional situation analysis is that it focuses more on the persons affected by the issue at hand (a.k.a. the end user). Then further Research should be conducted, see if your company or any other company has faced the same issue before and what has been done at the time to solve it. Next comes one of the most important stages, the Ideation. At this point first you should identify the needs and motivations of your end users then unleash your creativity, give all the ideas you have without putting any limitations always focusing on the needs previously defined. Then Prototype; try to combine and refine the previously generated ideas, present them to the end user – in other words test them, seek feedback, then select the best options. Afterwards you will get to the hard part, to Make a Choice! Always choose the idea that has the most potential versus the most practical/easy one and Implement it. And last but not least make a follow up, evaluate your strategy, check if it served the purpose and learn!
In the end the Design Thinking process is not very different from the traditional HBS case method, however it is more open to generating new ideas and focusing on the end user rather than the balance sheet-Involving the customer in most of the process closes the gap between the company and its clients. I can see as well the design thinking method working best when companies are trying to innovate; it could be a great way to make people ¨organize their creativity¨ to be able to apply it.
Finally there´s a method that can put the creatives and business people on the same line, and that requires the participation of the end user; isn´t he the one buying in the end?
Check out this video of Tim Brown from IDEO talking about Design Thinking
And you, what do you think?