Some people say there is no such thing as a problem but challenges to which solutions haven’t been discovered yet. In life as well as in research, we encounter many obstacles. At this point, the design thinking methodology is not only a universal but also an innovative method, more and more willingly harnessed to enhance the production stage. However, as the design thinking approach brings about plenty of advantages, it isn’t flawless. We should take into account all the pros and cons when choosing the right method to establish a solid backbone of our research process.
Challenges of Design Thinking – table of contents:
- What is design thinking and how does it work?
- The advantages of using design thinking
- Challenges of implementing design thinking
What is design thinking and how does it work?
In previous articles, we have already introduced design thinking. As a reminder, one of the definitions states that it is a process of turning observations into ideas, then ideas into solutions, and these in turn, into products or services that through testing end up as goods designed makes our lives better. The more concrete methodology presents 5 stages of design thinking integral to its implementation:
- Empathizing – initial analysis of problems and user needs
- Problem definition – identification of users’ real problems and needs and on its basis determination of further actions
- Ideation – presenting one’s own suggestions for solving a given problem or creating a new idea
- Building prototypes – preparing a prototype of the created project
- Testing – testing the created solution in real-life conditions
We can apply the principles of design thinking in every conceivable way, from student projects to important customer orders in businesses. Nowadays, it is popular and willingly adopted in projects of various brands or institutions. Its main feature concerns its versatility, as we may apply it whenever we have to deal with problems or needs involving human nature. As the creative process happens to cause chaos, the design thinking proves to bring about order and structure enhancing the activities we undertake.
While working on the methodology, the research team has a chance to unleash their imaginative potential at the same time, to show others the range of ideas generated without hesitation, but also to approach the task empathetically, listen and analyze each successive problem or example presented by one of their colleagues.
However, it is essential not to become too attached to one’s ideas. It may happen that you will have to alter them, just get inspired to formulate new ones or let them go altogether. Moreover, take care of arranging an appropriate environment for your research team, as well as the relative time frame for the duration of the process.
The advantages of using design thinking
The main advantage of using this method is just versatility, we can adapt it to most of the projects that we will create. When creating an entire project, we can approach it in a more or less detailed way, just as with design thinking, we can use its various tools in different ways, depending on the need.
Why is it worth using this method? When it comes to benefits, the most substantial ones are:
- Competitive advantage – thanks to an in-depth analysis of the problems and needs of potential users, we are able to create a product adequate to their requirements
- Reduction of costs and risk of a failed project – as a matter of fact, looking specifically at the prototyping stage, we don’t have to use the most expensive materials to create a good prototype
- Wide range of applications – we can adopt this approach to develop new products or services or to modify those already created
- Structured structure – as mentioned earlier, it helps to divide the entire creative process into individual stages
- Motivation and involvement of the team – thanks to it, the team has to approach the studied problem in a particularly empathetic way and with high understanding. This helps to strengthen the bonds between co-workers and allows for a better understanding of each other
- Broader scope – when we start working on a challenge, we can allow ourselves to create multiple hypotheses and perceptions. Additionally, it broadens our perspective on further actions and supports our creativity in working on the process
We have mentioned only some advantages of the whole process. Yet, these are the key aspects to take into account when choosing the right method while working on the creation of a new product or service, or modification of an already created product.
Challenges of implementing design thinking
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits, it’s time to focus on the less pleasant aspects of the process. Even though many people consider design thinking to be an exploratory and innovative method of problem-solving, this does not mean that this approach is flawless.
Despite eliminating the problems that come with wanting to create or modify a product, design thinking creates new and more complex obstacles to overcome. Take a look at the major ones below.
A broader perspective
Design thinking requires taking as broad a perspective as possible, one that will make us see the big picture. As It is here that we can encounter the first difficulties. These are the so-called social problems that arise in every team and at every stage of design. They can arise from researchers’ lack of familiarity with the culture, customs or lifestyles of their clients.
An important aspect is the environment in which researchers begin their work. It is natural for them to start working on a project in a place they feel at ease. Otherwise, it can make the work on the project significantly difficult including completely changing the researcher’s thinking. Therefore, paying attention to ensure that the team is diverse and consists of specialists from many fields and people who are open to new possibilities and empathetic enough to accept various ideas.
Collaboration with specialists or departments
Scientists and academics remain reluctant to share data with researchers who are trying to gather information for the investigation or implementation of a product or service. The claim that laymen lack capabilities to develop worthy solutions is by no means valid, so much as a view that scientists have always great and creative ideas. The trick is to use the power of these two groups as one and make them aware that they are equally critical. The best solutions pop up when they join forces.
Getting to know the user and their needs
The most important thing in the design thinking methodology is precisely knowing the needs and problems that a potential user has. Most people, even after the initial research, start to draw hasty conclusions. Often the researchers create additional problems for themselves and thus try to get to the final stage of solving them as quickly as possible. However, this would not give the expected results. Therefore, take all the time you require to get to know the user inside out.
Individuals work in a team and each of them wants their idea to be noticed. Each person may have their own point of view and vision for creating a prototype. This results in many versions of one idea and thus controversies and misunderstandings related to it. Therefore, every manager, must constantly work on communication in the team and make sure that everyone will be fully heard – after all, researchers are working on a common idea.
All methods, approaches, techniques and ideas have their pros and cons. It’s up to us to decide what path to take with our research and which tools and models we will implement when producing a service or goods.