In our last blog post Design Thinking Part 1, we discussed the overarching stages of the Design Thinking process based on the book, Designing for Growth by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. Those phases are, what is, what if, what wows, and what works? Now you’ll learn the 15 steps to guide you through the Design Thinking process.
Before you start
1. Identify an opportunity
Design Thinking works well for two situations in particular. First, finding solutions to problems that have many unknowns. And secondly, coming up with innovations and areas of growth in your organization.
2. Scope your project
Start with a basic statement of the area of opportunity, then write out ways that scope can be broadened, and finally, go the other direction to see how that scope can be narrowed. This is an exercise that will help you start to see the opportunity in a new light.
3. Draft a design brief
In Agile we call this our Project Charter. It’s a simple one page brief to outline the area of opportunity, any key stakeholders, scope, constraints, expected outcomes, and success metrics.
4. Make your plans
Here you will decide the basics of the process. What is the timeframe, who will be involved on the team, and/or will it be a solo effort?
5. Do your research
In this step, you will gather insights about the state of your current reality. This research can be done in any number of ways. Interviews with stakeholders and/or customers, direct observation, secondary research (about industry norms, for example), value chain mapping, creating user personas, and journey mapping are all options. Just remember that this research gathering needs to be human centered, so aim to be as empathetic as possible.
6. Identify insights
Once you’ve gathered all this research, put it into a format for your team and even possibly your stakeholders to see. One common way is to make low cost posters at your nearby FedEx Office. Then you will hang the posters in a room, and give everyone a chance to walk around and capture insights on post-it notes. After about 30 minutes have them put their insights into clusters. These will be referenced later in the brainstorming step.
7. Establish design criteria
Now that you’ve got a solid idea of the opportunity in front of you, answer the question, “the ideal solution would ____.” In this step we aren’t solving the problem, but rather making clear the end result we are looking for.
8. Brainstorm ideas
We’ve finally made it to the solution generating phase. In this step we want to explore any and every idea to give ourselves a very large base to choose from. One great brainstorming process is very similar to a retrospective technique we use in Agile. Give everyone a post-it note pad, and give them 3 minutes to quietly and individually come up with as many ideas as they can. After the 3 minutes they will share their ideas with the group. Following that, they will get a second round of 3 minutes to come up with more ideas individually.
9. Develop concepts
Put all the post-it notes from the brainstorming session on a large board or wall where they are all visible. This next phase is where we start to build concepts. These concepts can be based on multiple ideas that came out of brainstorming, or even themes that the team struck upon.
10. Create some napkin pitches
In our Davisbase Agile training courses, we teach this exercise to our classes, and call this practice an Elevator Pitch. It’s a short pitch to convince someone of the basics of the opportunity, and the value proposition attached. Once you have a few concepts developed from the last stage, practice making some napkin pitches from them. Teams can develop these together, or as individuals and then pitch them to the other members of their team.
11. Surface key assumptions
By this point in the process, the team’s energy is high, and they are ready to take these ideas to market. Before we do that, we need to burst their bubble just a bit, and surface the key assumptions that we are making in our concepts. What are the assumptions we are making, that if proven false, would prohibit our concept from being successful?
12. Make prototypes
Start to build prototypes of your concepts that you can begin to interact with and show to your stakeholders and/or customers. These can be in any variety of formats. They could be actual 3D objects. They could also be something 2D like a flowchart, storyboard, video, or even a drawing.
13. Get feedback from stakeholders
In this step we will introduce our prototypes to our stakeholders and/or customers. There are a few key ground rules to keep in mind. First, no selling. You shouldn’t have to convince your audience that these are good ideas. Second, offer only a small number of choices. Having 2-3 options available will help you to see which one your audience gravitates to. Lastly, aim to have a diverse group in your audience. This will help to ensure that there aren’t key assumptions that you’re missing, or that are false.
14. Run your learning launches
Now that you’ve developed your prototypes and have sign-off from your stakeholders, design the framework around how you will test these concepts, and test them! In this phase, it is critical to be willing to fail. Forcing a “solution” on your customer that isn’t actually solving a problem won’t benefit you or your customer.
15. Design the on-ramp
This last step is all about putting your successful prototype into place. This is the phase where we will introduce the new feature to our Agile teams to build. Additionally, ask yourself key questions like, “What will cause our customer to begin to use this product?” and “How will we entice customers to repeat their business?”
Now you’ve learned the four overarching principles of the Design Thinking process (what is, what if, what wows, and what works), and you’ve got 15 actionable steps to put each of these phases into place. Contact us to help you through this process, and also find ways it can enrich your existing Agile process.