Have you heard of design thinking? Design thinking refers to creative strategies designers use in the process of designing, which can change the way products, processes, and even strategies are developed. Therefore, design thinking is an approach to resolve issues not only for designers, but also in other sectors such as education, business, and healthcare. In fact, in Singapore, inculcating design thinking is one of the broad directives in the Design 2025 Masterplan released last year. Many companies have since been holding design-related workshops catering to both children and adults, including leather crafting and art jamming. If you are thinking of how to apply design thinking to your business, these are the 5 stages to kickstart your design thinking process.
Businesses often begin with the human element. Whether it is figuring out your target audience, or meeting with clients or potential shareholders, chances are that you need to possess empathy for your business to gain a foothold in the industry. The design thinking process encourages you to have an empathic understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve. This is done by empathising with people and communicating with them to understand their experiences and motivations, and experiencing their physical environment to be able to relate to what they are going through. This stage is basically to gain a deep understanding of your business’ target audience, their needs, and the problems that underlie their need for your product or service.
Define The Problem
This stage requires you to take the information you have gathered in the first stage and define the core problem that you and your team have identified. The problem should be defined as a problem statement in a human-centric manner instead of a sales-centric manner. For example, you’d normally come up with a problem statement such as “We aim to increase purchases among young teenage girls by 10% within 3 months”. From a design thinking perspective, the problem statement should sound closer to this – “Young teenage girls need clothes that are meant for growing adolescents.”
Following stages 1 and 2 where information was gathered and the problem statement is defined, your team should be ready to generate ideas. As the problem statement is more focused on the human element in the design thinking process, your team should be able to come up with unconventional ideas. These ideas should ideally be more concentrated on helping your target audience solve their underlying problems, which in turn drives sales for your business as well.
Once you have your ideas ready, the next thing that should cross your mind should be questions such as “Will the ideas work?” and “How will it be received by our target audience?”. There’s no better way to test your theories than coming up with a prototype! A prototype is a sample, no-frills version of your product built to test your ideas. This prototype should be created to put the problem solutions through several tests which should tell you how successful your product is.
When you have your prototype ready, the last step is to distribute it to users. Users can be potential customers in the market who are willing to try your product before it launches or even your team members! However, this is not all. Upon distributing your product, you need to get your users to try your product and gather feedback on their experience, whether it is positive or negative. This ties in with the first step – empathize! You need to understand how your users feel before creating a product for them. Following this, the prototype should be improved continuously based on constructive feedback until the final product is created.
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