Every design thinking process begins with a problem - business or social, complex or minor, and often ill-defined. Start by learning about the circumstances of the issue and exploring the ecosystem in which the problem exist. Learn about the audience you are designing for – interview them, observe people and places, take part in their work and lives. Be curious and absorb information like a sponge, instead of leading the conversation to a conclusion you already formed. Research, research, research...The goal is to understand the problem, the people, and the ecosystem in which everything exist.
After observing the circumstances of the issues of your audience, its tempting to want to solve all of their problems. Design thinking helps a designer to narrow the focus of the issue they will attempt to solve with a creative solution. Construct a point of view organized by needs and insights, based on your results from step 1. The result should be a question that clearly defines the scope of the problem you want to solve.
This is where magic happens. Group brainstorming, sketching, storytelling...this is the iterative process used to generate ideas using the “yes and…” technique to build upon each others’ ideas and create as many ideas as possible in short sprints. Another method is “how might we…” technique focused on specific constraints. A sprint is a few minutes of individual ideation followed by sharing of ideas, then using “yes and...” to build on ideas. Additional sprints are conducted on other needs and insights and to further explore specific ideas. Generating as many ideas as possible improves the odds of achieving the best and my viable solution for your audience.
Prototype Build a representation of one of your ideas to show others. Use sketches, mockups, post-it notes, and high fidelity prototypes to conceptualize your solution. When you build something you discover more about the problem and potential solutions. There is no one right answer but you should always aim for simplicity, beauty, function, and customer delight.
Testing Show the prototype to potential users and customers to get their feedback. The goal is to continue learning about the customers’ core problem and potential solutions that provide them value.
The repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 - Ideation, Prototype, and Testing - until the best solution is created, providing value to the customer, and solving their problem.