Design Thinking: Myth Vs Mythology – 3 common misconceptions

Posted by Chris Hayward on Jan 22, 2016 8:30:00 AM
Chris Hayward


A lot has been written in the business press recently about the transformative abilities of Design Thinking to impact things from strategy to product innovation and customer experience. Given its current popularity Design Thinking runs the risk of being pitched as a silver bullet to many of businesses, governments and societies problems.

Yes, Design Thinking is an approach that can and has yielded great results. But we need to be mindful that successful adoption does require people and organisational cultures to adopt some new values about how new value is discovered, defined and delivered.

If you are taking the first steps to becoming Customer-Centric Download this ‘What is Design Thinking guide’ to explore the potential for your organisation

I see three common challenges in adopting Design Thinking based on experience working with a range of clients.

The first is in forming design teams with right skills, knowledge and capabilities. Inter-disciplinary teams are essential. It is the mix of perspectives represented across the project that will help you generate and assess ideas.

The second is providing the time and physical spaces needed to support this way of working.

Design Thinking draws on principles deep immersion in your customer’s world and co-design. Immersion takes time and building trust with your customers for them to reveal aspects of their lives that will give you genuine insight into what matters to them.

You will also want to spend time collaborating and working closely together in workshops and co-design sessions. You will need dedicated spaces that allow people to work in small and large groups, visualise their thinking and prototypes. Spaces need to be light, comfortable and visually appealing.

The third is adopting and being comfortable with ways of working that might seem counter-intuitive to commonly accepted business practices.

When you start a Design Thinking project you need to go in with an open, perhaps relatively naïve mindset. You don’t know what you don’t know. You will discover a lot if information, some of it may not be relevant but you won’t know this until you start to synthesise your data. This period of time is fluid and ambiguous. You will need to go back and revisit topics you perhaps thought we not important at the time.

Placing to tight a restriction on the team to produce outputs too early will negatively impact the important task of understanding your customer and their context in enough detail to help you generate and test good quality ideas and concepts.

What I see in my daily practice is a genuine desire of organisations to adopt Design Thinking but there is a lack of awareness of how to structure and manage design teams and projects within traditional businesses structures.

Before you commence a Design Thinking project, take the time to talk through how the project will happen and how this might present challenges for your business. It is worth it!

Inside the Design Thinking Action Lab

Topics: Design Thinking and Customer Experience