It’s likely that you’ve heard the term design thinking used in a business or product context this year. Applying design thinking is in vogue; but what is design thinking, anyway? And does it apply only in product development, or can it be used in the business world?
Design thinking aims at tackling complex problems with an iterative and human-centric approach. That may still sound a little theoretical, so let’s break it down.
Human-centric means that every initiative will start by understanding the end-users: what are their goals, their needs, their hopes and expectations? Only by understanding these is it possible to create a product that end-users will deem a success.
But the complexity of humans and their psychology ensures that, even with the most detailed data about the target audience, it is hard to get the answer right from the start. This is where the iterative approach comes in: instead of building a product based on an idea and releasing it with the risk that it doesn’t meet the audience’s expectations, design thinking recommends building numerous small prototypes. These can be tested at low cost – and used to gain additional information on what end-users need. This helps remove uncertainty about the proposed solution – and ultimately diminishes the risk of releasing a product that ultimately fails in the market.
Design Thinking for Corporate Change
At Nexthink, we’re using design thinking daily in our product development, creating hundreds of small prototypes and testing them with end-users before building successful ideas into the product – and learning from the numerous unsuccessful ones. The same thinking, however, can be applied in much broader cases, as for instance when discussing corporate change.
With the accelerating rate of technical innovation, companies are bound to be constantly changing: changing digital tools, changing corporate organizations, or even pivoting the entire company.
As an organization grows, getting any major change wrong can lead to an increase in costs, or even an existential crisis. That risk leads some large companies to remain relatively static – in a stage called 'analysis paralysis' – which opens them up to smaller and nimbler challengers that can exploit this lack of evolution and change to their advantage. It’s how smaller upstarts put an incumbent company out of business.
Design thinking can point us to a way out of that standstill. Instead of implementing a proposed change company-wide, why not run experiments with smaller units first? A new tool, a new reporting structure, even a new brand, can be first tested with an “internal start-up,” serving as a pilot for the entire organization.
If the new way works, it can be applied to the whole organization with a lower risk of it failing. If it doesn’t, this experiment will still have brought a valuable new data point, at a relatively low cost.
Nexthink Can Help
If you’re reading this and thinking “but how can I make this work?”, well then you’ve come to the right place. We here at Nexthink can help your transformation efforts and technology integrations by setting up a way for you to gather live feedback about your initiatives. With feedback being so critical to getting design thinking correct, setting up a feedback process needs to go hand in hand with any test implementations or process changes.
Our digital employee experience technology can not only help you break down the wall between IT and employees by providing a way to obtain real-time feedback, it can also help you understand any problems by correlating said feedback with technical and back-end performance data. This allows you to see the full extent of any problems, leading to faster corrections, made with the understanding of the true employee experience in mind.