The Design Thinking Toolkit: 100+ Method Cards to Create Innovative Products
Do you know that companies in the top-quartile of Mckinsey Design Index score experienced 32% higher revenue growth and 56% higher total returns to shareholders than their counterparts over a 5-year period according to a Mckinsey Report published in October 2018? Being a design-centric company pays off as evidenced by the likes of Apple, Facebook, Airbnb and Google, and other design-driven organizations that made design thinking a core business strategy. For example, A.G Lafly, the former CEO of P&G, was able to turnaround the company in the early 2000’s by placing design thinking at the core of his innovation strategy. The successful launch of new design-oriented products such as MagicReach and Kando and the revival of Herbal Essences shampoo line through ‘Clay Street’ were all the result of this user-centric design strategy.
“I want P&G to become the number-one consumer-design company in the world, so we need to be able to make it part of our strategy. We need to make it part of our innovation process.”
– A.G. Lafley (Lafely), Chairman & CEO, Procter and Gamble Co (P&G)”
So what is Design Thinking? Design Thinking is a human-centered, iterative, and collaborative approach for creatively solving real-world, wicked problems and building solutions that are desirable by customers, technically feasible and viable over time. Design Thinking, which was popularized by IDEO and Standford, is a 5-step process that starts with the understanding of customer needs and defining the problem to solve before moving to the ideation phase where we try to brainstorm as many solutions as possible before prototyping and testing our ideas with end-users.
In this post, I share with you more than 100 design thinking tools that can help you drive innovation in your organization and design better products and services. Whether you are an entrepreneur, designer, product manager, builder, freelancer or consultant, these tools will help you run better design thinking sessions and become more user-centric.
1-UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER NEEDS (EMPATHY)
The first stage of design thinking is empathy. But then, what does being empathetic mean? The notion seems difficult to define as we are not in the realm of exact sciences when we explore the environment of our users. The tools that follow provide a framework that can help you navigate through both the divergence and convergence phases. They will help you to better organize the qualitative data you need to collect in order to draw relevant insights and learnings.
Pre-research tools will help you gain a common understanding of the different stakeholders’ expectations and make sure the team is aligned before moving to the research phase.
Design research is useful to not only understand individuals but also
frame individual behaviors in the context of the community that surrounds
them. Therefore, it will be important to employ many methods of research.
Visualizing what users share during the interview process will allow for a better understanding of their desires and aspirations and make it easier to download key learnings from research.
2-DEFINE THE USER PROBLEM YOU WANT TO SOLVE
These tools will allow you to consolidate and synthesize everything you were able to collect during the empathy phase in order to uncover users’ needs and insights, define a point of view and reframe the problem. You will have to prioritize information, work collaboratively and trust the group to make the right choices in order to launch the ideation phase in the right direction. No more room for collecting, now we have to converge!
2.1-Synthesize Research Learnings
To move from research to real-world solutions, you will go through a process of synthesis and interpretation.This requires a mode of narrowing and culling information and translating insights about the reality of today into a set
of opportunities for the future.
2.2- Uncover Needs & Insights
Making sense of your research is accomplished by seeing the patterns,
themes, and larger relationships between the information. This process
can be messy and difficult at times, but ultimately very rewarding. Seeing
the patterns and connections between the data will lead you quickly toward
2.3-Reframe the Problem
One of the most challenging creative leaps to make in design work is to move from the concrete world of observations to a concisely stated point of view[..] Points of view are built out of two things, an understanding of a user group (hopefully a unique empathic understanding) and insight into a need that group has.
User + Need = Point of View
3-BRAINSTORM TO GENERATE SOLUTIONS TO YOUR CHALLENGE
This is the creative stage of the design thinking process in the true sense of the word, so take advantage of it! Go for quantity as this a pre-requisite of quality, defer judgment, be visual, build on the ideas of others, stay focused on the topic, one conversation at a time and encourage wild ideas! Don’t hesitate to pace the sequence of tools according to the energy in the group, make sure to open as many doors as possible.
Often, the theme of ideation is too large or abstract to get a grip on. You can use various techniques to limit or split the theme into more manageable chunks, see different aspects of the theme, and produce more diverse ideas.
In the ideation stage, your goal is to generate as many ideas as possible. So, go for quantity!
Don’t forget that once a maximum of ideas have been generated, the time for convergence begins. The tools below will help the team categorize and decide which Idea to prototype next.
4-PROTOTYPE AND FAIL FAST
Design Thinking is about making things and the whole point of prototyping is to fail early, so make your idea concrete as fast as possible as it will eventually give you a better understanding of how to improve it. Even if you still have doubts about what you’re trying to achieve, your best bet is to do something about it. Don’t spend too much on it as you will get attached to your prototype and won’t be able to be objective during user interviews in the test phase! We have compiled a list of tools that can help you and your team embody the maker posture. Don’t forget: everything can be prototyped.
According to Klap, Prototyping can serve different objectives, so you can find below a list of tools for each objective category.
4.1- Align a team and make the concept more tangible
4.2- Validate the Value Proposition of the concept
4.5-Prepare the Implementation Phase
5- TEST YOUR PROTOTYPES AND ITERATE
After solutions have been generated, it’s time to take them back out to participants.
Don’t invest too much time perfecting the ideas before feedback — the point of re-engaging customers is to change the solutions, not to prove that they are perfect. The best feedback is that which makes you rethink and redesign.
Finally, I am sharing with you a list of icebreakers and checking-in games that you can use in your design thinking sessions.
These tools will allow you at the beginning of the workshop to know how the group feels, what are its expectations, any obstacles that might impede the success of your session so you can address them head-on and adjust the agenda accordingly if needed.
These are short exercises that initiate exchanges between participants, create movement, energize the team, and make them feel comfortable working and collaborating together. These exercises can also be used in the case of a drop in the energy of the group.
7.1- Games to get to know each other
REFERENCES AND RELATED LINKS FOR FURTHER READING