Driving Sustainable Growth and Competitive Advantage through Human-Centered Design

April 14-17, 2020

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5 Design Thinking Best Practices To Implement

By: Design Rush
01/30/2019
In collaboration with media partner Design Rush, we explored the definition of design thinking and design thinking best practices and mini examples. The article in brief: 

5 Design Thinking Best Practices To Implement

Although design thinking can be integrated into any business growth tactic, its unique process may make it seem daunting to begin.

Luckily, there are some best practices that make implementing design thinking strategies a little clearer – and a lot more effective!

1. Begin With Empathy

Design thinking starts with empathy, so take the time to really put yourself in your consumers’ shoes.

“Understanding not only ways of using existing data to create visibility, personas, and understanding, but moving further into integrating customer feedback, ethnographic research, and immersion workshops can further your skill set,” says Marisa White, Principle Analyst and Program Director at the Customer Management Practice.

2. Change Your Company Culture

It is imperative to note that design thinking changes the structure of your team and the way in which you work more than it does the actual end product.

So, brands need to take steps to alter how they create project timelines and even the company culture.

To begin this shift, Customer Management Practice recommends raising awareness and garnering buy-ins for design thinking through one or two-day workshops, week-long sprints, or multi-month engagements.

“However, design-led organizations such as Pepsi, Apple and Google are utilizing design as their culture, a continuous process and mindset,” notes White.

3. Constantly Collaborate

Along the lines of changing company culture and work processes is the need to consistently collaborate with team members.

Design thinking is less of an assembly line of autonomous tasks and more of a hive mindset that understands consumers and works to find creative and customer-centric solutions that make their life easier.

Therefore, brands need to keep collaboration at the core of the design thinking process, because it requires all voices at the table and a breakdown of silos.

4. Utilize The Voice Of Your Consumers

Design thinking improves strategies (in particular, marketing) by tying in the voice of the customer in each step.

That is what makes design thinking so user-friendly and, ultimately, successful.

Plus, Customer Management Practice shared that many design-led organizations are also evaluating their brand as a tool to create communities and ecosystems, rather than single channels of communication or transactions.

Try incorporated user-generated content or messaging that your target audience already uses or associates with your brand to find common ground with them.

5. Keep Your Eye On Longevity

Finally, there needs to be a respect for the continuous nature of the process necessary for long-term results.

Design thinking is not ideal for one-off campaigns that need swift results that aren’t sustainable.

Instead, design thinking thrives when it is geared toward achieving long-term results through high-level strategy.

“Never view design thinking as a “one and done” workshop or sprint,” advises White. “It is a long-term commitment to customer centricity that needs to be continuously fostered, motivated and implemented.”

5 Examples Of Design Thinking In Action

There are so many examples of design thinking that show its effectiveness. Customer Management Practice shared some of many success stories with DesignRush, including:

  1. Customer Management Practice had an F10 organization using design thinking to survey users, ideate, prototype, test and launch an innovative app within their stores in only 48 hours.
  2. They saw a multiyear project with a billion-dollar financial services institution creating a digital innovation studio from the ground up using design thinking at the core to create some of the industry’s most disruptive technology.
  3. One of the largest global CPG organizations is using design thinking to reframe their brand messaging and redesign their digital channels to extend beyond their singular product, creating a community, lifestyle, and ecosystem to engage consumers.
  4. And one of Customer Management Practice’s initial stories was from a healthcare behemoth that redesigned their organizational structure to allow for cross-functional collaboration, more effective user research, raising their stature as a division to the leading unit globally.
  5. Customer Management Practice also witnessed entrepreneurs disrupt enterprises with design-led, agile ideation and culture. Vice-versa, they saw enterprise organizations create and launch competitive businesses to self-disrupt and stay competitive.

What’s better? These stories are just the tip of the iceberg of the practical application and outcomes of successfully integrated design thinking and human-centered design.


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