Welcome to the 2nd post in my blog series! Last week I discussed how KS&R's agile culture allows us to meet our client's ever-changing needs. Here's one example that our clients value for its refreshingly customer-centric approach.
"What is design thinking?"
I asked a friend from graduate school this question several months ago. Her response has stayed with me: "It's all about collaboration -- getting your client and their customers together to brainstorm and develop new ideas. And, even more importantly, giving these business professionals a structured way to ponder and apply what they are learning."
She's right. Real time "to ponder" is limited. It can be particularly difficult to absorb any insights when you are constantly pulled in different directions. I know that first-hand from my time at BellSouth and FedEx.
Design thinking may be a better way.
Additional research led me to an expanded vocabulary -- a new way of structuring ideation and taking those ideas to market. While experts will tout different words and processes, the essentials of design thinking are the same -- you are taking the time to understand who your customers are, defining the problems that need to be solved, brainstorming different ways to solve those problems, building prototypes and then testing them.
Our approach is very collaborative, where we facilitate our clients working side-by-side with their customers to understand experiences, pain points and delighters -- and then brainstorming improvements. This immersion is essential for building empathy. Ideas generated are stronger because they come directly from customers with direct guidance from key business experts.
We then work together in workshops to bring the ideas to life in a meaningful, tangible way -- and then take the proposed solution back to customers to capture their reactions (how's the experience, what do they like, how does it makes them feel, etc.).
In some cases these steps take place over a few days -- as a design sprint. For others it can be a longer process (typically not more than a few months). The approach is intended to be agile yet structured, with each step a building block to the next. The ending point is fully evaluated prototypes -- prioritized with the feedback needed to build business cases and make decisions about how to move forward.
Our clients find design thinking a refreshingly customer-centric approach for innovation and new product development.
Are you getting what you need out of your innovation platform and new product development processes? Maybe it's time to ponder a new approach.
Continue reading the next blog in my series where I go into more detail about an innovative approach that allows you to catch your customers’ in-the-moment reactions as they enter a specified location -- geo-fencing.
Miss the first blog? Don't worry -- it will only take a couple of minutes to catch up! Read it here.