Design Thinking-The Crux of the Matter

Thought my way was right
Forgot the customer is always right!

What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a set of principles for creating problem solving leading to human-centered products, services and internal processes. It unlocks needs and problems, even when the user doesn’t know what they are.
Design Thinking is a focus on people and listens to the voice of the customer. It’s a way of thinking.

Why Design Thinking?
Many a corporate giant collapsed from their supremely eminent position in the recent past, just because they lost the focus from the customer needs. Nokia is an example. Perhaps the needs of the business took over. The space was taken over by players like Apple who knew exactly what the customer desired and became highly successful.

What’s the relevance of Design Thinking to L&D?
In L&D all roads must lead to the learner. Any miss anywhere is costly and the final learning experience delivered must be enjoyed by the learner. The learner will take it or leave it. That’s all. In eLearning all the processes involved – be it the knowledge transfer session, the storyboarding, the production, the UI, the LMS must always keep the learner needs and ease in mind. If the learner focus is constant and permeates all stake holders in the project, then you are on the path to deliver a truly delightful experience for the learner. Don’t bother so much on the business but bother about the raison d’être of the business – the learner.

What are the Challenges to Design Thinking?
Design Thinking could be disruptive and be full of imponderables. It takes practice and is not a onetime event. It involves continuous fresh thinking. Your best processes, products and services will have to be questioned in the light of latest learner/customer needs. And that’s not easy for organizations and individuals to imbibe.

How do you implement Design Thinking?
A five step process is recommended to implement Design Thinking.

  • Affinity: First step is Affinity. It is the capacity to understand or feel what the other person is experiencing. It uncovers the voice of the customer and removes our biases if any. Understand the world view of the learner- the language, the images etc. they would appreciate.
  • Specify: The second step is Specify- Specify problem statements. During interviews to know the customer side, record what the others said and did than what you felt and thought about them.
  • Deliberate: The third step is to Deliberate- Brainstorm and creates solutions. This should be a freewheeling exercise. Generate as many ideas as possible about the solution. Do expand here.
  • Model: The fourth step is to Model- Build representations of one or more ideas. Optimization of efforts is important here. Avoid it being lost on the customer after all your time and efforts.
  • Assay: The last step is Assay- Test ideas and gain user feedback.

All these five stages are non-linear and you can get back to any earlier stage and lead back to affinity always. Never forget that customer or learner is the king.

To sum it up, Design Thinking is the customer focused thinking. It is the best guarantee to handle possible failure. Never is the relevance to L&D more than now, in the context of millennial learners with their ever changing needs. To incorporate Design Thinking in organizations, they need to go beyond their present project chores and that would be challenging. And there is a five step way we can structure and follow Design Thinking and deliver delightful learning to the learner.

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