Transforming Design Thinking into Design Doing

You’re probably already familiar with the whole concept of Design Thinking; a human-centered approach to creative problem-solving.

If you’re new to the world of Design Thinking, check out our article to help you get started; What is Design Thinking? A Beginner’s Guide.

Design Thinking can be very impactful for any company, but it only leads to true innovation if the vision is well executed.

Or as Don Norman (co-founder of Nielsen Norman Group and father of UX) preaches…

We need more design doing. — Don Norman

Design Thinking does not save you from the actual Design Doing. It’s not magic.

But how do you turn Design Thinking into Design Doing?

What is Design Doing?

Design Thinking is the process of thinking creatively and coming up with innovative ideas to solve problems, while Design Doing is the process of implementing those ideas you’ve come up with during the Design Thinking process.

Design Thinking is really important, but Design Doing is just as essential because there’s no point in doing all that Thinking if no one will ever see the fruits of your labor.

Now, let’s talk about the relationship between thinking and doing, and why it is important to bridge the gap between the two.

Bridging the Gap Between Thinking and Doing

When applied effectively, Design Thinking can be a game-changing method for helping businesses expand their scope of possibilities and break out of conventional patterns.

It creates a sense of empathy and moves us beyond theoretical debates in conference rooms to the process of making and testing new ideas. This idea might sound amazing, but putting it into practice is not always so simple.

The fear of failing or messing things up is one of the major barriers to the implementation of Design Thinking.

However, to bridge the gap between thinking and doing, we must learn how to put it to good use to get the results we want.

There are lots of resources online that talk about the concept of Design Thinking. Why then is it challenging to study and teach Design Thinking in a way that encourages others to adopt the methodology?

We can only fully learn the whole concept of doing by directly gaining experience in the field and interacting with others.

Design Thinking requires hands-on practice to fully understand it. You cannot fully grasp what it entails just by listening to someone else talk about it or reading about it.

You need to dive in and experiment on your own to determine what works for you. And the only way to improve is to spend time practicing.

The whole process is majorly social, so talking to and learning from people who have been in the game for a while is also important.

When you work through examples and case studies with other people, you learn from their insights and criticisms, thus becoming much better at it.

Experience and interaction, when brought together, help students see design as a craft instead of a predetermined process or a finished product.

To succeed, you need to learn to appreciate the role that both Design Thinking and Design Doing play, and understand the importance of the two concepts being in harmony.

Let’s take a look at some ways by which we can effectively carry out Design Doing to achieve the best results.

How to Effectively Practice Design Doing

Here are some helpful tips that would help to effectively integrate thinking and doing, and ensure that the beautiful ideas conceived during the Design Thinking process are brought to life.

1-Get into ideation

Ideation is a key process in Design Thinking and Doing. This is where you define the problem and begin to look for possible solutions.

During ideation sessions, a team brainstorms potential solutions to a problem and collaborates to come up with new concepts.

They consider all of their options to have fruitful brainstorming sessions and point out the problem that needs to be solved.

But it is important to note that the first idea doesn’t necessarily have to be the best.

There are various ideation techniques such as brainstorming, challenging assumptions, brainwriting, brain dumping, sketching, storyboarding, and many others, which can be used to come up with various creative ideas.

With those kinds of techniques, you can push past the most obvious ideas and choose the ones you could use for further experiments and tests.
The ideas you really believe in.

2-Practice empathy; prioritize the needs of your users

The key to developing a successful product or service is finding the sweet spot between what your customers need and what the company requires.

Designers must keep the end-user in mind at all times. Always remember that the buyer might not necessarily be the one who would use the product.

While the buyer should understand the benefits of the product, the user should feel understood and cared for throughout the product’s usage, and their needs must be put first.

Empathy can be challenging to implement in the process of design. You have to successfully prioritize the user without being constrained by the opinions of the buyer concerning what they think the user needs.

And to do this, you need to fully understand the process, imbibe a lot of discipline, and carry out thorough market and user research.

It is important to understand the behavior of users and what spurs them into buying. You can pinpoint user mindsets by conducting research at the initial stages of the design process.

When the process has reached an advanced stage, you can then carry out usability testing to better improve your product’s user experience i.e how your customers interact with your products and services.

3-Adopt a hands-on mindset; begin testing as soon as possible

When developing a new product, the teams involved usually aim for a fully-formed idea or even a fully functional solution before embarking on gaining feedback.

However, implementing improvements after completing the entire development process is a considerably larger task that can increase time-to-market, and restrict the impact of the product on the user.

We recommend replacing these lengthy iterations with shorter, frequent ones.

It’s important to test your ideas out so you know what works and what doesn’t.

When you gain feedback early and as frequently as possible, you can prevent major setbacks. And a ton of minor setbacks along the way are always preferable to a major one at the finish line.

Allow yourself to take any feedback into account, and learn from your mistakes and failures. When one idea doesn’t work as expected, go back to the drawing board, identify the loopholes, and restrategize.

4-Practice Experimentation

Great products are built on experimentation.

But it’s not always easy to create a culture of experimentation where your team is enthusiastic about finding unconventional solutions and conducting structured experiments.

When you take on an attitude of experimentation, you permit yourself to make mistakes.

Why? Because you’re testing the waters to find out what works best. Also, you’re expanding your knowledge.

When an idea or prototype doesn’t work, you can always go back to the board and redesign it from the ground up, because you haven’t built anything yet.

By embracing experimentation, we push ourselves to try new things, develop our thinking, and solicit and receive feedback in a way that will help us learn more about both our designs and Design Thinking.

5-Embrace the prototype mindset

As a creative process, prototyping helps us figure out how to materialize a concept in a way that will most effectively serve our goals.

This method allows us to better connect with our audience, gain insight into their wants and needs, and iteratively improve our products and services based on their feedback.

To do this, you’ll need to use whatever tools and methods at your disposal to materialize your thoughts into something like an item, a visual representation, a role play, or even a script.

It communicates the ideas you’ve generated and helps to find areas that need further attention. This ensures that the users’ most pressing requirements are being met.

It is important to develop a positive attitude towards prototyping and be willing to test multiple things out till you find what works.

6-Let your designers do their thing

We’ve established the fact that Design Thinking and Design Doing have to be in harmony.

Designers contribute to both the development of the product’s long-term vision and the actual fine-tuning of the final result.

This makes it really important that they have more autonomy.

You should trust your designers with the freedom to make choices and question established norms when working on your project.

Also, instead of merely relying on them to implement your ideas, they should be involved in the main process of finding solutions to the problems.

Allot sufficient time to the process of finding solutions.

Designers connect the dots between imagination and originality, therefore it is important to have a structure in place that enables them to carry out innovation in the most effective manner.

7-Carry the developers along

It is important to involve the development team in the Design Thinking process because they are the ones who would bring the technological aspects of your ideas to life.

If you ask for their opinion on the problem at hand, they might have excellent suggestions that can be implemented.

There’s no point in developing a solution that cannot be executed because of technical constraints, so carrying the developers along at every step of the way is necessary.

Working with them can help to cut down on the number of iterations and ensure that your product release schedule is not delayed.

8-Work on improving deliverability

Product, design, and development are all interconnected, and each team needs a full understanding of the other to make the right decisions.
For Design Thinking to effectively break down these organizational silos and foster collaboration, it must become ingrained in the culture of the company as a whole, not just a fun, one-off event.

No one can create a masterpiece of a product alone, so it is important to continually probe for feedback from the team.

Analyze and share findings from your studies. Let teams share their objectives and ideas and work together to achieve them.

Always keep track of your progress to ensure you’re still in line with the initial goal. Make sure that everyone is engaged at every step of the way.

Conclusion

As a result of success in helping companies realize their full potential, Design Thinking is now widely used across all disciplines. Many businesses, however, fail to realize that the Design Doing phase is necessary to turn ideas into practicable solutions and commercial innovations.

Many businesses that have embraced Design Thinking have shifted their focus from actual doing to just thinking. They instead spend their time analyzing and researching instead of actually using what they learn to come up with original solutions.

They forget the fact that until the solution is materialized, the Thinking they have done wouldn’t see its full glory.

The first step in designing anything is figuring out what problem you’re trying to solve, and then figuring out how to solve it given all the constraints you’ve identified.

It is only when you begin to actively solve the problem through the implementation of the ideas you’ve come up with, does the product begin to have any real effect on the buyer and user.

Focus on the process and the steps involved. Act and evaluate your progress.

Make necessary changes when the need arises, keeping in mind the importance of a solid strategy and a solution that favors the user.

When Design Thinking is implemented, Design Doing is birthed, and only then can your goal of providing a feasible solution be achieved.

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We are eager to know how we can help you with Design Thinking or any other innovation method.

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