I had a rather unusual conversation with a client recently while preparing a workshop: the client wanted to explore innovative market solutions by engaging colleagues with diverse job roles, however the client openly admitted that they did not have the best product on the market.
The conversation went something like this:
Client: “[Competitor X] beat us to the market with a more superior product, we can’t compete right now with actual performance, that’s why we need to go above and beyond”.
Me: “so, what are you looking to do?” (it was a bit more formal than that, but this will suffice)
Client: “we need value-added solutions that go beyond the [product]*, solutions that create a community and that also cater to the emotional and psychological needs of our [target]*”
*as a matter of privacy for the Client, I won’t share specifics on the sector, product or target
In this case, we needed to focus on intangible benefits based on a product/service, the mindset of the end user (empathy) and rapid implementation.
The result was a workshop that relied on design-thinking methodology to generate comprehensive and realistic solutions that could be developed within a year’s time.
Design Thinking is an approach to problem-solving that helps organizations and people overcome obstacles to innovation, and it focuses on four main concepts:
- Idea of “possibilities”
- Various options
Harvard Business Review hailed Design Thinking as a new working method that leads to extraordinary improvement saying that it “has the potential to do for innovation exactly what Total Quality Management (TQM) did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes”.
Investing the time in exploring this methodology is helping organizations get to market quicker and smarter.
Why quicker? Design Thinking uses various tools and thought processing techniques to arrive at conclusions relatively quickly.
The method takes off with a situational analysis and an evaluation of what is currently working well and then allows participants to build off of that by defining problems that can be converted into resolvable challenges. At each phase of the process there is open discussion and voting panels to accelerate decision-making.
Design-Thinking also incorporates Learning Launches that are designed to test and implement ideas in as little as five days (SPRINT methodology). This is absolutely crucial in today’s market: organizations no longer have time to follow the classic New Product Development (NPD) process, where they can potentially waste resources developing the perfect product that will later be rejected by a fickle market.
Design Thinking is innovation adapted for rapid market changes. After all, the average attention span of humans today is a mere 8 seconds.
Design Thinking gives organizations the possibility to think outside the box and go beyond market expectations.
Your competitor beat you to the market with a better performing product?
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to devote all your resources to developing an even more superior product. As in the case of the Client mentioned above, an innovative solution but the “human” as the center of the problem and looked for a comprehensive solution that went beyond the product – the intangible.
In my workshop, within a matter of a few hours the Client managed to generate 6 solid solutions that met market needs and could be implemented within one year. The next step would be to implement Learning Launches to test feasibility and feedback.
According to McKinsley, investment in intangibles by top growing companies in key sectors like financial services, telecommunications and retail has grown by 29%.
So, why does Design Thinking succeed:
- Diverse teams: it draws on participation from diverse backgrounds within the organization and the method is built on active sharing (everyone participates!) – this also garners more trust within the organization
- Original and superior solutions: multiple voices that are guided by process mapping leads to better outcomes
- Lower risk: typically outcomes generate multiple options that can be ranked based on their impact vs. effort to allow organizations to decide what works for them
- Human Focused: ideas and solutions are generated for people by people, it puts empathy at the core of objective-setting
If you are interested in learning more about a Design-Thinking workshop for your organization – on-site or digitally – contact me!
Mary Wieder Founder and Senior Consultant