We live and work in a world of interlocking systems, where many of the problems we face are dynamic, multifaceted, and inherently human. Think of some of the big questions being asked by businesses, government, educational and social organizations: How will we navigate the disruptive forces of the day, including technology and globalism? How will we grow and improve in response to rapid climate change? How can we become a more efficient and effective organization in the face of static or shrinking budgets? Design thinking offers an approach for addressing these and other big questions.
Design thinking can transform the way organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategy. This approach brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. Oceanit’s Mind to Market business methodology consistently engages complex problems that produce disruptive results and technology. However, unless this disruptive technology can be delivered into the marketplace and be adopted by humans and society, it’s like “one hand clapping.”
This realization led Oceanit to embrace Design Thinking (DT) as developed at the Stanford University d.school (Design School). Design Thinking brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. Without one, the other cannot succeed.
Oceanit adopted Design Thinking practices in 2010 and in 2011, Oceanit co-founded the Design Thinking Hawaii Boot Camp, a three-day event that we now host anually. Oceanit hosts DT training workshops and offers DT consulting services for government organizations and businesses to spark strategic, creative, and innovative solutions.
DT at Oceanit is led by graduates from the Stanford d.school along with five facilitators educated and/or trained at Stanford University. Many of the Oceanit Ohana have gone through Design Thinking training at the Stanford d.school and Oceanit has now led over 300 Design Thinking workshops, boot camps, design challenges, and events since 2011.
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a human-centered creative problem-solving process that provides the "how-to" in order to think "outside the box." It is a five-step process made famous by David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and the Stanford Design School. Design Thinking provides the principles and strategies to harness the creative potential of you and your stakeholders to solve the most difficult and challenging problems. Design Thinking is well suited for fuzzy, undefined problems, where no obvious solutions seem to work. Developed by the Stanford d.school (School of Design), Design Thinking makes teaching innovation and organizational culture change possible by breaking problem solving into a five- step process:
- Empathize -“To create meaningful innovations, you need to know your users and care about their lives.”
Empathy is the centerpiece of a human-centered design process. Empathizing is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge. It is your effort to understand the way they do things and why, their physical and emotional needs, how they think about world, and what is meaningful to them
- Define -“Framing the right problem is the only way to create the right solution.”
The Define stage is all about defining the challenge you are taking on, based on what you have learned about your user and about the context. After gaining invaluable empathy for the person you are designing for, this stage is about making sense of the widespread information you have gathered. The goal of the Define mode is to craft a meaningful and actionable problem statement – this is what we call a point-of-view. This should be a guiding statement that focuses on insights and needs of a particular user, or composite character.
- Ideate -“It’s not about coming up with the ‘right’ idea, it’s about generating the broadest range of possibilities.”
Ideation provides both the fuel and also the source material for building prototypes and getting innovative solutions into the hands of your users. Mentally it represents a process of “going wide” in terms of concepts and outcomes.
- Prototype -“Build to think and test to learn.”
Prototyping is the iterative generation of artifacts intended to answer questions that get you closer to your final solution. In the early stages you should create low-resolution prototypes that are quick and cheap to make (think minutes and cents) but can elicit useful feedback from users and colleagues. A prototype can be anything that a user can interact with – be it a wall of post-it notes, a gadget you put together, a role-playing activity, or even a storyboard.
- Test -“Testing is an opportunity to learn about your solution and your user.”
Testing is about soliciting feedback from the prototypes you have created from your users. Testing is another opportunity to understand your user, but unlike your initial empathy mode, you have now likely done more framing of the problem and created prototypes to test. As a rule of thumb, always prototype as if you know you’re right, but test as if you know you’re wrong—testing is the chance to refine your solutions and make them better.
To learn more about Design Thinking, please contact Oceanit.