Design Business Council
Design thinking has failed

Design thinking has failed

Design thinking has worn out its stay. There is so much hype about it and not enough definition of it. The business consultants who have tried to build design thinking systems have lost sight of the fuzzy logic that is at the core of how designers think.

That’s why I have coined the term pre-design thinking.

I define this as the thinking that goes into a job before design begins. Some might see this as research, but I know that you can add value for yourself and the client if you position pre-design thinking as a set of activities that lead to a better outcome.

Having spent more than 30 years examining how designers think, I developed a number of business tools that define pre-design thinking.

After using these tools in my business I now show designers how to use them. Having shown these to hundreds of designers they are now selling these tools to clients as workshops in pre-design thinking.

Tool 1: Empathy mapping

The best way to convince a client about the value of design is to understand what motivates them. This is where I use an empathy map. An empathy map is a collaborative tool that puts us in our clients' shoes.

It allows us to better analyse the wants and needs of clients, and in the process uncover previously unseen or unnoticed ways to improve a product or service. Empathy mapping is a very simple way to identify and reduce potential hurdles and in the process we can probably impress our clients. I use six building blocks when preparing an empathy map; how does the client think & feel, what do they see in the workplace, what do they hear, what do they say and do. From this we can work out what it is that pains them and what their gains will be if we can relieve their pains.

We use a brainstorming process to fill in the map using PostIt notes and Stickies.

Tool 2: Jobs to be done (JTBD)

The JTBD methodology can be applied in all phases of the design process. This begins with developing the design brief.

The jobs to be done theory began when Theodore Levitt said, “people do not want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.” When you think about this it's true; customers buy a product or service to get a job done. The product may come and go but the underlying job to be done remains. This is the basis of jobs to be done theory.

Many of your clients innovate by trying to improve their existing products (ie. creating a better quality quarter-inch drill), but their innovation process can be dramatically improved by trying to find a better way to create a quarter-inch hole (to get the job done).

For example the purpose of the hole may be to put in a picture hook to hold up a piece of artwork. If this (hanging a picture) is the real job to be done then there are many other solutions. The 3M adhesive hooks are just one much simpler answer.

Changing your thinking this way can have profound results: stop looking at the product and instead look at the job that people are trying to get done. By making the job the focus of our research we can introduce much more effective design solutions.

Tool 3: Customer journey mapping

A customer journey map illustrates the story of how a customer reacts to our clients’ product or service. It begins by looking at why the customer first thought they needed them. It then looks at the decision making process in deciding to buy the product or service. This is followed by looking at the initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.

It examines the user’s feelings, motivations and experiences.

This often gives a sense of the customer’s greater motivation. What do they want to achieve, and what are their expectations of the product or service?

A customer journey map is an ideal medium for a designers because it is usually expressed as some type of infographic.

Take away point

These tools precede the design phase. Once you have gathered all the information through these tool it is up to the design fuzzy logic to turn them into something unique.

If you would like to know more about the pre-design tools contact Greg [email protected].

Greg Branson

Design Business Council

[email protected]

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed a series of processes and tools to help designers manage their business better along with a series of workshops that show designers how to use these tools.

*All attendees at the workshop will receive a copy of the white paper.