Design thinking in the discovery process

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If you have ever taken part in product discovery workshops, you probably have come to touch with design thinking principles. How do they manifest in the discovery process? We have prepared a brief guide based on our own experience with organizing discovery workshops.

Design thinking is strongly associated with product development, but, in fact, it can serve the purposes of any discovery process. Whether you’re trying to come up with a solution to a mathematical problem or create an outline of a book or movie, design thinking is helpful as support.

Any project can benefit from adjusting its framework to the design thinking principles. Although it may seem very theoretical at first, the concept finds numerous practical applications across industries, helping companies from different niches identify the most promising strategies for achieving their goals.

Today, we will focus on the application of design thinking in the discovery workshops. In most cases, it shapes all its stages, paving a path towards polishing the raw idea into a concept ready for market implementation. Let’s see how it happens!

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a non-linear iterative process aiming at creating innovative, problem-solving solutions. The ultimate goal of design thinking is to understand the user’s unique needs and address their problems. These problems usually get redefined throughout the process as the team gains a better understanding of what they want to achieve and what their audience expects.

The design thinking process can be described in three different approaches (double diamond model, five stages model, McKinsey Design model). Most companies apply the second one, dividing the process into five design thinking phases: empathizing, definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing.

Emphasizing – gathering information about the users in order to understand their needs. At this stage, the team may create empathy maps, conduct surveys and interviews to get to know the most about the users, and create their profiles.

Definition – defining the user needs using the outcomes of the previous stage. In order to make a decision, the team will likely conduct brainstorming sessions to confront ideas.

Ideation – summing up the conclusions from the previous stage and recommending solutions on this basis. Ideation is the most creative stage of the whole process, where the team has enough data to come up with new fresh ideas. In order to capture them, the team can use different techniques, including collaborative sketching, brainstorming cards, opposite thinking, etc.

Prototyping – visualizing the ideas and putting them together to create an outline of the product. The results of this phase will later serve for developing the solution that will be released to the market. Here the team can combine different methods – storyboards, mood boards, wireframes – in order to capture the

Testing – the last stage verifies whether the solution works well in the real user environment. If it reveals that some of the assumptions require changes, you can get back to the previous design thinking phases and implement them.

Design thinking in the discovery process – benefits

Implementing design thinking principles into your product design process can entirely revolutionize the way you think about your idea. Through the course of the design thinking workshop, you may entirely change your perspective on users’ needs and priorities.

The initial project assumptions often do not focus on the user, even though we think they do. Design thinking-fuelled discovery workshops change that. You can take advantage of this opportunity for the purposes of new product development, but also for implementing changes in already existing products. It will likely bring you closer to market success, considering its current focus on the user.

In order to correctly implement design thinking principles into the discovery workshop, it is worth reaching out for external help. A company specialized in that can organize and conduct the workshop with your team, helping it make the most of the potential of design thinking.