Article: Step by step design thinking - the stage by stage approach


Step by step design thinking - the stage by stage approach

Empathizing with the end user is important to understand the problem from their point of view, know their needs and to observe the physical environment for inputs and other data related to the problem.
Step by step design thinking - the stage by stage approach

Think beyond boundaries! Think out of the box. Think of alternate ways to get to the same destination. Design thinking is the user-centric solution for all complex and abstract problems, one faces in one’s life or career or on the work front. It is shifting focus from the problem to all possible and feasible solutions. Design thinking allows one to get to the core issue of the problem and view the problem from various situations. Design thinking facilitates accurate perception of the situation and effective communication with end users and breaks all hurdles in communication. 

The various stages in design thinking involve: 

  • Empathizing

  • Defining

  • Ideating

  • Prototyping

  • Testing 

Empathizing with the end user is important to understand the problem from their point of view, know their needs and to observe the physical environment for inputs and other data related to the problem. Putting oneself in their shoes and understanding the mindset of the end user as well as the crux of the issue helps in hitting the bull's eye. For doing this, understanding of oneself is important in the design thinking process. One has to be aware of what one is doing and why he/she is doing it and the compulsions, convictions, commitments associated with it. The basis being the identification of the gap/missing spark leading to self-awareness and introspection of oneself. When one becomes aware of one’s true potential and passion, by self-discovery and self-motivating techniques, trekking the mountain of success becomes easier and even more interesting. Design thinking methods and various career hack techniques accelerate the pace of achieving goals and learning at a faster pace by decluttering, unshackling and removing the obstacles. 

Observing what is one good at, what one could be doing and what could be the outcomes of a wrong decision are things which one needs to evaluate about oneself. In short, know your strengths, weaknesses and major interest areas and deal with your cards accordingly to succeed.

One can identify one’s strengths by the help of some of the career assessment tools like Gallups strengthfinder assessment, Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), CPP etc. 

Gallup’s strengthfinder tests help one search for inherent talents and then hone and mold them into their strengths. The test helps find the top five strengths in a person. 

MBTI assesses qualitatively and quantitatively, assesses one’s personality traits, their interaction with peers, communication and learning at work. It gives an insight into one’s positive strengths and also makes one aware of the pitfalls in a new career, prepares to face and overcome the barriers. 

Strong inventory test is another career instrument tool which gives a wide view of one’s interest areas and a strong focus on interest areas which one can take up as an alternate career option. Getting feedback from each of the tests is important because only with the collective feedback one can decide the next move. Each test has to be taken with cent percent involvement. 

Tools like Persona Maps, Empathy Maps, Mood/Vision Boards help in bringing out the inconsistencies in one’s thoughts, feelings and actions were taken in the past. These are a very powerful tool which helps to unearth the underlying root cause for one’s disengagement or demotivation in the workplace and helps to set the context to ‘Define’ the real problem.

Defining is the next step after understanding and perceiving the problem. Design thinking helps in defining the problem clearly with available inputs and data from the previous stages and helps in yielding a solution and exploring opportunities. Constructing the problem is important so that more avenues for a solution can be explored. Likewise, defining the purpose of one’s career is tough and challenging requiring lot of effort, hard work and commitment to take the right decisions and to fix a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound) goal. It also requires one to identify one’s passion and true calling with conviction rather for convenience and then taking massive action. Identifying long-term goals and objectives will help in maintaining one’s focus and direction and also help align actions to achieve the desired outcomes.

Self-exploratory tools like T-Tool and techniques such as “Reframing” the problem statement helps one lead to insights as to why one is doing what, he/she is doing and what could be the possible causes? Questioning with the help of “Why” statement helps in excavating the truth and realities that are blocking from taking action and help in discovering the motivation, pain, and gain by doing so.

The next stage is where goals can be broken into smaller chunks of actions/steps. Once the sub-goals are defined, brainstorming ideas and strategies to implement becomes easy and the universe helps in this process. Ideating involves creating a stimulating atmosphere that promotes and generates strong new ideas, that encourages new possibilities of solutions. Brainstorming session gives rise to many new ideas and which in turn gives rise to a brilliant solution. Think wide and out of the frame to get interesting solutions. 

Active Meditation, visualizing techniques, socializing, talking to mentors, coaches and collaborating with role models/profiles of whom one aspires to ‘be’ and networking to understand their journey’s and pitfalls and learnings could be a great way to validate one’s assumptions or reinforcement to pursue one’s dream career.

Prototyping is the next stage where the solutions are put into reality, from an abstract mental plane to a more cognizable physical plane. Rough sketches of the solution are created with cost effective and simple viable approaches. One can also collaborate with people who have excelled in the same field and reached heights, to get an insight and learn from their experience. This gives a chance to learn from the mistakes of others, thus saving time and effort and motivational energy. It’s like putting one’s strengths and potentials to test and aiming for better results. This strategic field test prepares us to face any surprises on the way.

Tools like art forms, painting, storyboarding, storytelling, scripting and Lego Blocks help one to experiment with their creative potential. One could also build 2D/3D props to showcase their ‘to be’ persona or ‘to be’ scenario experiential maps. Taking action with small steps and keeping an experimental mindset to incorporate feedback will go a long way in building self-confidence and trust in one’s career journey.

Testing is the last stage wherein one having gained an insight from all the various stages of brainstorming and armed with a clear idea of the solution, puts that to the testing phase. There are no failures but only feedback which can be used to correct one’s path. One’s progress can be reviewed in the initial 90 -180 days, which is a good yardstick to know whether one is in the right direction and in the path of success. If things don’t fall in place, one can review them by the actions taken, feelings, thoughts and through experiences. Design thinking is an iterative cycle wherein one gets feedback from the end user and effectively uses that to fine tune the final approach and an optimistic view is required to keep one going.

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Topics: C-Suite, Employee Engagement

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