5 steps to make your innovative idea human-centric and essential

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.” -Albert Einstein

We are in a time of great uncertainty but also of profound opportunity. The world is changing as we know it. But this opens up a stage for entrepreneurs to shine. There is a chance to deliver real value to the world in the face of chaos. How can we serve? How can we adapt current companies to fit the new business landscape? What new ideas can we create to address peoples’ wants and needs? Entrepreneurs have the chance to lead the way in this grand shift of physical, economic, and sociological dynamics. The key to successfully do so is design thinking.

Design thinking is a creative problem-solving process. The core of the methodology is human-centric and asks the question, “What’s the human need behind a product/method/process/service?” It’s central to entrepreneurs who want to generate bold and innovative ideas. After all, authentically understanding people and how to best serve them is at the heart of every successful business. The design thinking process allows you to see your business through the eyes of the customer. It helps you to identify the customer’s desires and needs and how to productively create ideas to address them. What better time than now to think about people and how to serve them in ways others have yet to discover or overlooked?

Historically, peculiar times tend to breed excellent ideas. “America’s financial panics have often been the periods of its most interesting commercial and logistical innovations,” history professor and author Scott Reynolds Nelson wrote in a New York Times article. “Some of our most storied brands today were born in depressions a century or more ago.” 

Many major companies and brands that are now household names were born out of recessions and hard times, led by entrepreneurs that leaned into obstacles and found and pursued opportunities. For example, Disney, CNN, Microsoft, Burger King and FedEx were all created during recessions. A similar opportunity to make a creative splash exists right now. What businesses will be born? Take your innovative idea and turn it into a success using the design thinking process.

“Entrepreneur, design thinking is the ability to create, portray and deliver tomorrow’s distinction, today.” – Onyi Anyado

The design thinking process

There are five essential steps to the design thinking process. It combines creative thinking, logical reasoning and testing as a strategy for innovation. The main goal of the process is to create a final product or service that fulfills end-users’ needs. Integrate the following steps to better connect with customers, refine the focus of your offerings and grow your business. 

1. Observe & empathize

At the center of the design thinking process is curiosity. Creating successful ideas starts with observing people and their wants and needs. Why do people behave as they do? Why are things the way that they are? What is working well, what is not working well and why? Asking these questions with an open and inquisitive perspective will help you to better understand the world around you and how you can successfully contribute to it. You will then have the ability to see the finite details and opportunities that exist within them to creatively solve problems.

Seek to understand what you don’t know about your customers and the problems they face by viewing the world through their eyes.

This creates empathy, a key ingredient in the design thinking process. Empathy will help you identify the best ideas for products and services to address your customers’ needs. Observe as much as possible during this phase. Everything you gather is useful information that will inform the future work you create.

2. Define the problem

Reflect on the information gathered from your observations. Doing so will help you gain clarity about the tangible problem you’re trying to solve. Group and cluster ideas together until you find the prominent themes. Then synthesize the information to help you pinpoint the most significant problem that needs to be addressed. You can’t solve all customer problems. Concentrate on the most significant or impactful issue as your central focus to move forward with. This step is crucial because it centers your energy and instructs your future designs. The end goal is to convert the defined problem into a tangible, human-centered statement, rather than focusing on technology, monetary returns, or specifics of a product. 

3. Ideate solutions 

“There’s a way to do it better—find it.” –Thomas Edison

Now that you better understand the target audience and the ins and outs of the problem, it’s time to generate ideas to solve it. Think broadly to create different solutions. Brainstorm! Get creative. There are no wrong ideas; the more possible answers to the identified problem, the better. This is usually a very creative and freeing phase because you have permission to think of out-of-the-box ideas before deciding which ones to prototype later. This is the phase that everyone typically loves because it has bottomless potential. 

4. Prototype

Phase four of the design thinking process is creating a prototype. Take your top idea(s) and create a simulation of the design so you can show it to people and get feedback. It is usually a scaled-down version of the product or system in question. This is a huge step in the evolution of your idea because it moves you beyond talking and ideation into the material realm of reality. Create a physical or digital prototype of some aspect of your product, service, or experience that you can show to users in your target market. Through trial-and-error, you will identify which of the possible solutions is best suited to solve the problem. 

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.” – Simon Sinek

5. Test

All of your work combines together to test the product in the final stage. This is the time to share your prototype with consumers to get their feedback. Therefore, this is still an interactive stage. Testing a product often leads to tweaking and redefining problems and solutions as you gain a better understanding of the consumer. It is an essential opportunity to make sure that everything about your idea is centered around the people who will be using it. You want to know what they think, both positive and negative thoughts. Use the information to flush out all details of your design and refine it. That is how you build the best product possible and prepare it to launch. 

“It is about them and for them. The closer the end-users’ needs are analyzed and answered, the more successful the adoption or purchase of a solution. You iterate until you get it right from a customer perspective. This the power of HCD (human-centered design).” – Olivier Delarue

The world needs the next great ideas and design thinking can help create effective and opportune solutions. Put people first and incorporate the design thinking process in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Looking for training in the Design Thinking methodology?

Voltage Control offers a range of options for innovation training, design sprints, and design thinking facilitation. Please reach out to us at info@voltagecontrol.com if you want to talk.