What entrepreneurs need to know about the Design thinking process

Many times, entrepreneurs come up with solutions to societal problems without the input of the ultimate users of the idea. They operate on the hope that the idea will work, which is fine until it does not. I am personally guilty of this. The time and energy spent on ideas which become a non-starter or backfire can hurt one’s entrepreneurial spirit. This is where the design thinking process comes in handy.

The concept of the design thinking process, was one of the recent discussion topics in my class, It is a methodical and customer-centric approach that emphasizes the consumer’s input in the design of a product/service to solve their problems and satisfy their needs. The concept comprises of a five-step process that I would like to share with you.

Step one: Empathize with the customer

This entails understanding another person’s situation or feelings. Empathy gives you “new eyes” into the customer’s problems by observation and having engagements through conversation, interview et cetera. This is so important because it minimizes loss of important information that will be shape the idea.

Step two: Define the problem/Problem statement

You have probably gathered several challenges/problems which need to be synthesized so as to zero down on the most pressing issues for the user. Try to recollect what really stood out for you from observation and engagement. Upon zeroing down on the right problem, you are then able to formulate the problem statement. Remember that only defining the core problem will help you find the right solution which should be meaningful and actionable.

Step three: Ideate

This is done by focusing on solutions to address the problem. The idea is to generate as many solutions to the problem as possible before narrowing down to one or two. Through brainstorming, it is possible to generate several solutions or ideas and zero down on the most appropriate solution to the problem, based on the first two steps.

Step four: Prototype

A prototype is the first sample or an early product or service that is used to experiment or test if it can solve the user/customer’s problem. This is something that the user can experience or interact with which is why it is important to build the prototype with the user in mind.

Step five: Test

The product/service can be tested on the user/customer for feedback to be able to learn what worked and what did not work. Either way, if it does not work, keep going back to step four to ideate and keep refining the prototype until you get the solution that deals with the problem.

That is the design thinking process in a nutshell. It fascinated me as it was a total opposite of what I was initially doing in the past while hoping to get the right results. This is a powerful and hands-on process that puts the customer at the centre of product development. By doing this, entrepreneurs can build solid, scalable and sustainable solutions to society’s problems.

The design thinking process: https://youtu.be/qyoZTUGzdGY

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