the article explores the key question, what takes a manager to think like a designer. and the answer is, it takes empathy, invention, and iteration.
- #empathy: is outlined as treating customers as real humans with real problems and understanding their needs and wants, at an emotional and rational level.
- #invention: is clarified by examining scientists and designers. while scientists analyze activities of today or past to discover explanations, designers create things for future use.
- #iteration: the path to solution is not a linear process but an iterative one. it involves learning at every step through experimentation to empathize better with the customer.
the toolkit, designing for growth, is a simple process that focuses on answering the following 4 questions – what is? what if? what wows? what works? this simple process leads us from defining the problem to achieving the solution. (refer picture below) at every step the “convergent” and “divergent” bands represent expanding the field of vision in the initial stages but narrowing down to most promising options during later stages.
to answer what is, we need to explore current reality. we need to observe/understand current activities to identify problems and to find opportunity for solution. try to find out what customers don’t like about today by using tools such as:
- #1) visualization – identify, organize and communicate with visuals to bring ideas to life. very useful tool across all phases of the process.
- #2) journey mapping – a tool to assess an ideas’ potential for value creation. “follow customers home” to understand their struggles.
- #3) value chain analysis – deep dive into the value chain when this idea will be implemented. it allows us to identify capabilities and resources of the stakeholders, customers, competitors and find/collaborate with the right partner.
- #4) mind-mapping – mine and organize all the information gathered in the research stage to draw insights about qualities of the innovation needed. this helps in generating ideas in the what if stage.
by answering what if, we get to envision a new future. after identifying emerging patterns, we develop hypotheses about what a future might look like. we transition from data-based exploratory what is phase to creativity focused what if phase. in this phase of ideation, we ignore constraints and explore possibilities by using tools such as:
- #5) brainstorming – allows us to formulate hypotheses about new possibilities. key is not to evaluate and filter out ideas.
- #6) concept development – organize ideas generated out of brainstorming into coherent clusters, and translate most compelling clusters into concepts
answering what wows, leads us to make choices. it helps us to prioritize concepts and figure out what wows. in this phase we are not proving the idea, but assessing how business case might look like by using tools such as :
- #7) assumption testing – evaluating the assumptions underneath the hypotheses. concepts that pass the test, could turn into real experiments in the marketplace.
- #8) rapid prototyping – create visual or experiential prototypes out of concepts, to enable meaningful conversation with all stakeholders and to collect feedback.
and to establish what works, we take the solution to the market place. it is time to launch and learn. to iterate towards a refined solution by using tools such as:
- #9) customer co-creation – engaging customers in an active and hands-on manner to refine the solution.
- #10) learning-launch – learn by piloting the concepts into the field and identifying disconfirming data that disproves our hypotheses. conduct low cost experiments, with quick iterative cycles.
above all, while designing for growth there is bound to be a tension between creating the new and preserving the best of the present. the key is to manage this tension, as we iteratively progress towards the solution.