Design Thinking is qualitatively different from other thinking styles. Regardless of how you use Design Thinking it communicates in unique ways, weaving together visual, verbal, and kinesthetic knowing. In this way thoughts, ideas, imaginings, AND planning, product concepts, and even goals become NeuroIntegrated® – inviting the whole human system (body, brain, mind, language) into the work.
- Design Thinking communicates the value participants bring to their work. By making visual/kinesthetic what people struggle to articulate, Design Thinking can explore non-conceptual ideas. Least this sound too intellectual, before Sony the “Walkman” was a non-conceptual idea – there was no concept in the market of a radio that you wore as a headset. Before Napster, music was a physical product that you bought from a store. Kindle and iPad went way beyond books-on-tape to create a whole new venue for self-publishing (not to mention the digital books they created). All great breakthroughs, and here I use the word “all” comfortably, began as a non-conceptual desire for something that didn’t yet exist. Then, as the inventor, designer, or imaginer worked to give form to that desire a new concept was born. Design Thinking is the midwife of this process.
- Design Thinking communicates the value that surrounds the product or service offer. Let me use a personal example of this. I have been a crackberry for years. The last one I had was the Storm, RIM’s answer to the iPhone. It was a dreadful experience – I couldn’t type, my Pearl was gone and I couldn’t navigate, the value that previously surrounded the phone was gone. I traded this experience for an iPhone, which emblazoned this point forever on my mind. Wow, I get it!! I may be the last to get on the Apple bandwagon, but this is Design Thinking that produces value at its best. And the apps are a very small part of it. Experiential consultant Lou Carbone, author of Clued In and founder of Experience Engineering, is a master at finding and amplifying the hidden value in the contextual design of hospitals, schools, business, and retail stores. When was the last time you evaluated that aspect of your business.
- Design Thinking communicates persona, meaning, and character. Today consumers are faced with so many good product and service choices that they can choose to buy where values and beliefs align. Does your persona reflect back to your clients what they perceive to be their best attributes? This is not the same as good market segmentation -this is more like being a best friend. Lou Carbone is aligned with Lockwood when he advocates moving “from delivering a haphazard, undifferentiated customer experience to an intentional, highly signature experience based on how customers want to feel.” This is the underlying force that drives the consumers desire for corporate responsibility and sustainability, a monster wave that all businesses will have to ride sooner or later. If you are looking for opportunity, white space, places to innovate, start here. Amazon has a persona that is like a friendly librarian, recommending books that I might like based on my tastes and those in my virtual “book club.” Lately they have moved into Internet marketing for cities, which I don’t want. Even their unsubscribe text reflected the persona that keeps me buying books on line. It was so different than most that it caused me to pause and reflect on the fact that someone took the time to craft even that small public communication. This is Design Thinking carried out across multiple levels of contact. An example to track for your own learning is how the Apple persona changes with the death of Steve Jobs – or will it? Can the Design Thinkers at Apple communicate that their mojo lives on unchanged? We’ll see.
To conclude this mini-series here is a list of books that will have you thinking like a designer in no time flat:
Design Thinking – Thomas Lockwood
The Design of Business – Roger Martin
Change by Design – Tim Brown
The Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz
And one I haven’t read yet – a Kindle Collection of three books