In continuation of the article Startup, TPE, PME: 7 tips to boost your activity, here is an additional tip linked to the now widespread concept of “Design Thinking”. It is undoubtedly a significant creative tool to boost your innovation, reform your business model and strengthen your attractiveness on the market …
What is Design Thinking?
It is a methodology used by designers to find intelligent solutions to complex problems. In other words, it is a creative thinking process that aims to respond to business issues. The intellectual tools used are multiple such as analysis, intuition, logic, imagination, systematic questioning, understanding consumer needs, etc. In the context of a business, the purpose of this approach is to offer a more intelligent, aesthetic and consumer-friendly service / product.
Apple is of course a typical example of a company that constantly uses design thinking to innovate. In their product development process, the company systematically carries out a reflection based on DT. How to optimize the interface of the Apple Watch to keep the functionality present on the iPhone? Why not combine the features of an mp3, telephone and internet search engine on one device instead of three? Can we remove the USB ports of the new MacBook to gain ergonomics without losing convenience? But be careful not to confuse pure design and design thinking!
“Most people make the mistake of thinking that design thinking is about appearance. They think it’s the aesthetic surface – that we hand a box over to a designer and say “make it beautiful”. This is not what design thinking is. It’s not just the appearance and the visual sensation. Design is the way the product works. “
– Steve Jobs
Creativity and a change of mentality are 2 key elements to allow the process to express itself fully. They often represent a challenge for established companies that are struggling to reinvent themselves.
What is the challenge of Design Thinking for you?
The guess is to say there is a correlation between DT and improving your business model. Design Thinking indeed seems essential to meet your innovation and development challenges. In often very competitive markets, the risk of obsolescence represents a real threat that TD can avoid. It is also what allows you to differentiate yourself on the market, and to make your services / products more attractive and qualitative in the eyes of your customers. Remember to target your customers well and apply DT to your different segments.
In order to talk in more detail about innovation, it is important to understand the distinction between innovation linked to the improvement of a product / service and innovation in the multiplication of business (brand extension, business development) where DT is certainly the most effective. One refers to the improvement of a product or service that the company is already acquiring, and the other she focuses on the emancipation of the company’s business and its ability to innovate and modify its business model.
Take Kodak’s notorious example: Eastman Kodak, an American leader in photography and videography in the 1980s, invented one of the first digital cameras in 1975. When the digital revolution started around 1990, Kodak chose to turn a blind eye to digital, preferring to focus on their original products and appreciated by their customers. Kodak actually created technology that destroyed its own business. The company has seen its traditional business become obsolete and its market shares drop by almost 90% in less than 10 years. One can really wonder about Kodak’s strategic error and its lack of flexibility to adapt to the market. While, for example, its direct Japanese competitor, Fujifilm, has been able to adapt its business model to the digital revolution and is still doing well financially.
How to reason like a designer?
Now that the concept and the stakes of Design Thinking are perhaps a little clearer for you, you must certainly wonder about its concrete application in your professional environment. Here are 3 simple tips that may inspire you:
1. Reflect on your business model
You have different ways of applying design thinking. For example, you can reflect on your current model and its relevance in the market. Just as the designer can wonder about his working style, his style and the place of his creations given the graphic demands of the market.
In order to help you carry out this reflection, the professor of the University of Lausanne and researcher, Yves Pigneur introduced a simplified strategic management model for startup called ‘Canva’.
It is a visual graphic divided into different categories which provide indications on the main activities, infrastructures, customers and finances of a company or a product. This allows you to break down your activities and think about potential tradeoffs of this model. Thus, you strengthen your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your business and consider possible improvements.
2. Create an innovation protocol
The idea is to create a protocol that systematically questions the creative nature of the project, its innovative aspect, its possible reception by consumers, its place on the market, its aesthetic, refined, practical, operational side, etc. You are looking to be rigorous in the way you approach a problem, optimize your product and corporate image. This protocol can sometimes be inspired by classic problem solving strategies, but the method and approach must above all be creative and adapted to the challenges of the business. Here is an example of a protocol below:
This graphic presents a classic problem solving (CPS method) with a methodology and an art specific to design. Via http://www.creativityatwork.com/
3.Leave more talk to creative minds
You don’t have to be a designer to reason with Design Thinking! On the other hand, you certainly have creative minds around you (maybe it is yourself?). Creating a work environment conducive to intuition and the expression of creativity is a challenge that you must take up. Spotify, for example, chooses to make its teams work in small groups of 4 or 5 so as to stimulate creativity and team spirit. The error is analyzed, is even seen as beneficial because it is considered as collective learning for the company. This system thus pushes individuals to dare to innovate despite the potential missteps.
Another interesting example is that of the Australian startup 99designs. The international design platform has a large community of more than a million designers with whom it does not hesitate to work closely. This brings the company to reflect on its own aesthetic, innovative issues and the convenience of its service to improve its platform. Design Thinking is thus at the heart of the entrepreneurial thinking of the company, and it takes advantage of the creative force of its community to question itself, and to innovate. Designers are for example solicited during marketing campaigns, or during regular updates of the platform.
What you must remember :
Design Thinking is a creative methodology used by designers to find simple and intuitive solutions to complex business problems.
It is a very effective method to remain competitive in the market, to renew yourself through the evolution of your business model, to innovate and to avoid becoming obsolete.
Design thinking does not praise Design, but aesthetics, simplicity, modernity, technical innovation and intuitive functionality.
It requires a change of mind and an in-depth analysis of your business model and your internal operating mode in order to really benefit from it.
Perhaps the solution to your problem is closer than you think, do not hesitate to solicit your customers and the creative minds around you!
This article was written by Victor Gleyze