Design Thinking

Design Thinking

To develop my innovation project, it has been really interesting to me  to go to through the design thinking process combined with the lean startup model. I have been using the design thinking process for many years now but every time I use the process in my work is different and presents its own particular challenges. One of the most fun challenges that I had throughout the process is to go through many iterations and being comfortable with ambiguity.  However, what helped me stay “focused” was my confidence in the process.

The design thinking process is a methodology that came out of IDEO (David Kelley) and the Institute of design at Stanford. As a style of thinking, design thinking is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. The main steps of the process are:

Understanding is the first phase of the design thinking process. During this phase, students immerse themselves in learning. They talk to experts and conduct research. The goal is to develop background knowledge through these experiences. They use the knowledge they develop as a springboard to begin addressing design challenges.

Students become keen people watchers in the observation phase of the design thinking process. They watch how people behave and interact and they observe physical spaces and places. They talk to people about what they are doing, ask questions and reflect on what they see. The understanding and observation phases of design thinking help students develop a sense of empathy.

In this phase of design thinking, students the focus is on becoming aware of peoples’ needs and developing insights. The phrase “How might we....” is often used to define a point of view, which is a statement of the: user + need + insight.
This statement ends with a suggestion about how to make changes that will have an impact on peoples’ experiences.

Ideating is a critical component of design thinking. Students are challenged to brainstorm a myriad of ideas and to suspend judgment. No idea is to far-fetched and no one’s ideas are rejected. Ideating is all about creativity and fun. In the ideation phase, quantity is encouraged. Students may be asked to generate a hundred ideas in a single session. They become silly, savvy, risk takers, wishful thinkers and dreamers of the impossible...and the possible.

Prototyping is a rough and rapid portion of the design process. A prototype can be a sketch, model, or a cardboard box. It is a way to convey an idea quickly. Students learn that it is better to fail early and often as they create prototypes.

Testing is part of an iterative process that provides students with feedback. The purpose of testing is to learn what works and what doesn’t, and then iterate. This means going back to your prototype and modifying it based on feedback. Testing ensures that students learn what works and what doesn’t work for their users.

At Adobe it has been very motivating and inspiring to me as well to see  the innovation efforts that are going on throughout all the company. The company is teaching the "lean startup model" to interested employees and giving them the opportunity to become innovators themselves. In addition to this great innovation effort within the company, in my team specifically I have had the great opportunity to be part of a new group, the Disruptive Innovation Group at Adobe’s Creative Technologies Lab. This process has enabled me to work closely with scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, and has taught me more about new technologies, and to combine academic research with innovation.