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A Design System to Help Discover the Most Elusive of Solutions


Dept's Rose Keane on design thinking, the hottest topic amongst the problem-solving creatives

A Design System to Help Discover the Most Elusive of Solutions

Design Thinking is a crucial tool for creatives to offer solutions for difficult problems. User-oriented at its core, it uses a collaborative approach to deliver the best results for both businesses and customers.

But... What on Earth is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a hot topic amongst the problem-solving creatives. I’m going to try and break it down into its value relative to you and it’s application to our user-oriented, prototype-centred process of innovation within our digital projects.

Funnily enough, design thinking has been around for decades, the scientific and systematic approach to the problem being pioneered by the engineers and architects of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

It’s a tried and tested collaborative approach to figuring out even the most sneakily elusive of solutions. Oh yes, we’ve all been there.

Design thinking may sound abstract but is actually well presented in an infographic below.

Wondering how Design Thinking tackles complex problems? It does this by: 

- Empathising: Understanding the human needs involved.

- Defining: Re-framing and defining the problem in human-centric ways.

- Ideating: Creating many ideas in ideation sessions.

- Prototyping: Adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping.

- Testing: Developing a prototype/solution to the problem.

The image below shows how we should aim to think around the steps: 

Erm…what’s a Shrek Model? Shrek models are extreme or outrageous prototypes that you are unlikely to build. Use them to spark debate and learning.

When Doesn't It Work?

Working in a team is great: creative juices flowing, multitudes of skill sets to tap into, distribution of responsibilities and workflow. However, if you lack a proper structure and defined application of the methods, your project is likely to have to navigate through some needlessly tricky scenarios. My top three are as follows:

- Too many good intentions, opinions, and angles can muddy the waters in the process.

- Co-designing with many people will likely extend your project time.

- The team jumps into the development without adequately testing and reviewing ideas. After all, it may seem like a bullet-proof concept at the start, but you need to make sure it will work in the long run.

You need time, a fluid thought process and a team (including our clients) of dedicated humans who are interested in supporting and inspiring one another. The space to investigate and explore many solutions and ensuring testing at intervals along the way are key things to help your ideas to develop. All of this helps to maintain a sense of meaning along the project journey.

When It Does Work, It Looks Like This.

No one said co-designing is easy. It comes with its challenges and rewards. If I could pinpoint the constants of all the successful projects, it would be: Trust, Defined Roles and Support.

Trust: Trusting your team member is crucial; your trust reflects your belief in their skill set, abilities, and experience.

Understanding: A clear definition and distribution of roles is a must; everyone needs to understand how and when they can both benefit from and contribute to a project.

Support: Teamwork is about support and mutual respect.

With these constants, you can offer robust solutions to complex problems. Use your team’s insights and imagination to deliver a brilliant execution. Don’t be afraid of getting back to basics and let skilled practitioners create.

Elevate, Create, Delight

From empathy-aware teams and value mapping of user needs to business offerings, design thinking can bring your project collaboration to the next level. When properly defined and implemented, it benefits both the business, individual collaborators and users. In the end, you will be able to develop sophisticated and targeted solutions for intricate problems while gaining new skills for the next challenges.

Rose Keane is lead UX designer at Dept

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DEPT®, Mon, 10 Dec 2018 15:10:59 GMT