Design Thinking
a method for innovative problem solving
tl;dr

As a software developer and IT consultancy, we are increasingly being engaged not only to digitalize existing processes, but to develop comprehensive and innovative solutions. In many cases, we opt for Design Thinking.

What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is an undocmatic, innovative approach to problem solving with a stringent customer orientation. It combines multidisciplinary thinking with a structured, iterative solution process. As such, agile collaborative working structures, self-organization and many well-known analytical and creative technologies are combined into a flexible and comparatively easy-to-use methodology. Design Thinking results in rapid, cost-effective and low-risk testable solution prototypes. After many years of use in practice, the method is well-proven and mature[1].

Design Thinking is a solution approach that is particularly suitable for multi-faceted or wicked problems[2]. [2].

In a complex world, businesses are often confronted with precisely this kind of problem. Eventually, once revenue and profit stagnate and there are no new cash cows on the horizon, readiness to adopt new approaches increases.

Design Thinking makes it more straightforward to start addressing the issues. Instead of relying on uncertain and opaque purported solutions, a DT team attacks the root cause of the problem. (See problem solving process).
Design thinking relies on the creativity of diverse teams and generates solutions that achieve greater customer acceptance, as the target audience was involved in finding solutions. An important aspect of DT, alongside the focus on customer requirements, is the agile culture that applies to collaborative team working, which is often reflected in the team's regular work at a later stage.

The result-oriented approach also makes it possible to achieve far-reaching effects on process and service structures, developing innovations that not only address technical requirements but disrupt the business model.
See the example of an innovative business model for the retail sector.

Methodology and use cases are described in specialist literature[3] on many occasions.


The problem solving process


Schema: Iterative schema of phases (based on IDEO)

Starting with a problem description, the scope is initially observed and analyzed via a team with diverse background. Understanding the problem, together with all the restrictions that are imposed, as well as the behavioral models of the various stakeholders, is central to the approach.
A range of proposed solutions are iteratively generated and consolidated, based on the observational data.
Physical prototypes are put together using simple materials and make it possible to experience the solutions. This allows dead ends to be recognized at an early stage, and clients and consultants can instead turn to the versatile range of previously generated ideas and solutions from earlier phases.
The selection and refinement of the most promising solution approaches are deliberately deferred to a late stage.