Innovating with Design Thinking

in Agile, Business Analysis, Business Analysis, Digital Transformation

turning ideas into sustainable solutions

Design Thinking is a user-centered methodology designed to address and solve complex problems through innovative, practical solutions. This interdisciplinary approach, popularized by IDEO, a global design agency that pioneered the field, is based on a deep understanding of user needs. It fosters close collaboration between multidisciplinary teams to create products, services and experiences that truly meet people’s expectations, thus improving their product quality.
The Design Thinking process encourages teams to observe and interact directly with users, to clearly define problems from user perspectives, to generate creative ideas, to develop prototypes, and to test these solutions in real-life scenarios. This iterative approach enables us not only to meet current needs, but also to anticipate future demands, by putting empathy and creativity at the heart of the creative process.
By putting people at the center of its concerns, Design Thinking stands out for its ability to produce innovative and effective solutions that transcend traditional approaches, making companies more competitive and innovative in a constantly evolving market.

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Key principles of Design Thinking

Design Thinking rests on four fundamental pillars that guarantee its effectiveness and adaptability in a variety of professional contexts. These principles are designed to maximize innovation and ensure that the solutions we develop optimally meet real user needs.

  1. Empathy
    At the heart of Design Thinking lies empathy for end-users. This approach requires a deep understanding of customers’ needs, desires and behaviors through direct interaction. This enables teams to see beyond explicit expectations and identify unexpressed needs, providing solutions that intuitively solve fundamental problems.
  1. Working together
    Interdisciplinary collaboration is key to breaking down silos within organizations. By bringing together professionals from different fields, Design Thinking fosters a fusion of varied ideas and perspectives, enriching the creative process and increasing the relevance and originality of proposed solutions.
  1. The experiment
    Experimentation is encouraged at every stage of the process. It involves the creation of rapid prototypes and the testing of concepts in real-life conditions, enabling hypotheses to be validated and solutions to be adjusted according to user feedback. This method reduces the risk and cost associated with developing new products or services.
  1. The iterative perspective
    Design Thinking is intrinsically iterative, which means that ideas and solutions are continually improved. Each cycle brings valuable lessons that are incorporated into subsequent iterations, progressively refining the solution until it reaches optimality. This approach guarantees constant adaptation to changes in the environment and new information.

The process

There are several ways of defining Design Thinking. Our pragmatic approach consists of four stages, each with key deliverables. This simplified structure makes it possible to adopt Design Thinking flexibly and effectively in different professional contexts.

First phase – Empathy and problem definition, clearly defining the issues at stake

Empathy : This first step involves diving deep into the user experience to understand their needs, desires and frustrations. Through methods such as interviews, direct observation and ethnographic studies, the teams gather valuable information that serves as the foundation for all the solutions they develop.
During this stage, several techniques are employed to ensure a deep understanding of users: semi-structured interviews, participatory observation sessions, and logbook studies are commonly used to gather authentic data. Empathy maps and personas are additional tools that help to synthesize and visualize the information gathered. This phase also marks the first use of tools such as the Lean Canvas or Business Model Canvas, making it easier to structure and prioritize the issues to be addressed.

Problem definition: Based on the information gathered during the Empathy phase, we clearly articulate the problem to be solved. This definition acts as an essential guide for solution development, ensuring that the team remains focused on the elements that are crucial to the end-user.
To pinpoint the problem, we use a variety of techniques: affinity diagrams organize and prioritize data, while root cause analyses such as theIshikawa diagram and the 5 Whys help us identify the real sources of the difficulties encountered.
The main deliverables of this phase include a well-defined problem statement, which guides all subsequent steps in the development process. We also establish precise success criteria, which will be used to assess the effectiveness of the final solution.

Second phase – Ideation and Prototyping, designing and validating the value proposition

Ideation : We encourage teams to deploy their creativity and generate ideas to solve the identified problem and design the solution. This step is vital to push the boundaries of conventional thinking and consider innovative solutions. We use divergent thinking techniques, such as SCAMPER or the 7 Thinking Hats method, as well as creative techniques.
We create a Product Concept Board. This visual tool helps to synthesize concepts. In addition, the Value Proposition Canvas is used to refine value propositions and fine-tune the Business Model or Lean Canvas.
It’s also crucial to prepare a product roadmap to prioritize and plan prototype development. Tools such as the Kano Model and the Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas help define key functionalities and establish a plan for their implementation in an iterative delivery approach.

Prototyping : This stage is used to test concepts and receive direct feedback from users. Depending on the project context, prototyping can serve several key purposes. It can be used to validate the assumptions underlying the product design, and to ensure functional and non-functional validation of the solution, includingmanufacturabilityand operability in the target environment. Frequently used techniques include the creation of models, the use of simulation software, and 3D modeling. Prototyping is a dynamic phase of continuous experimentation and optimization, where each prototype version helps to clarify and improve the value proposition of the final product.

The Iterative nature of Design Thinking

Design Thinking is fundamentally iterative. Each phase of the process can be repeated if the results are not satisfactory. Iterations can be phase-specific; for example, the problem definition can be revised after a wider consultation. If the tests carried out during the prototyping are not conclusive, this may lead to questioning the design of the solution and returning to theideationThis can lead to a complete rethinking of the problem definition, if the team realizes that it was mistaken about the real needs, or testing can reveal new customer segments, prompting the team to return to theempathy.
In iterative development, the natural cycle of iterations is to repeat the ideation and prototyping phases. Each iteration aims to bring the product or service closer to the real needs of users, thus optimizing the value and relevance of the solutions developed.

Design Thinking, innovating sustainable solutions - Illustration

Adapting the Design Thinking process to the product context

Design Thinking can be adapted to different contexts with specific approaches. In industrial design, precision is paramount: every detail must be validated before manufacturing, to avoid the high cost of modifying tools or molds, for example. In the field of business IT, the process guides the development of detailed specifications, clearly defining what is to be delivered. Finally, in a lean/agile development approach, ideation corresponds to the preparation of backlogs and the prototyping stage corresponds to realization in the iteration.

See our 2-day Introduction to Design Thinking course

Our two-day Design Thinking course offers an effective opportunity for organizations seeking to innovate and optimize their product or service development processes. By immersing themselves in each phase of Design Thinking, participants will acquire the practical and theoretical skills essential for tackling complex problems in a creative, user-centered way.

Develop transferable skills that strengthen their ability to collaborate effectively in multidisciplinary teams and lead innovation initiatives. You’ll also learn how to use over 20 essential tools to align innovations with organizational objectives.

This masterclass takes an immersive, hands-on approach to teaching. Each module begins with a concise theoretical introduction. This introduction is followed by practical exercises in which participants apply the tools and methods discussed. These activities are concluded by in-depth debriefs, which provide an opportunity to analyze and reflect on the experiences to consolidate learning.

Introduction to Design Thinking

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