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Design Thinking: Creativity with a Method

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More and more companies are discovering for themselves Design thinking: VW, Siemens, Bayer, Deutsche Bahn - but what is that anyway? Another nice catchphrase that needs to be filled with content first. Perhaps you can still imagine something under design. Thinking - think - of course. But in combination? In fact, it has less to do with aesthetic Aspects to do as you would like at first glance. Design thinking describes a method that is about different Creativity techniques unite with each other to develop new products or services. You can read here what this method of creativity can look like ...

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Design Thinking: The best from different disciplines

Design Thinking was developed by scientists at Stanford University in California, in the middle of Silicon Valleythe Creativity and think tank in the IT and computer industry. The forerunners go back to the 60s, where Architects and social scientists Thought about different approaches and transferred them to management. Until the innovation agency Ideo was finally founded in 1991, which advises companies using this method.

Educational institutions like the HPI School of Design Thinking go even further in their definition: They connect you with Design Thinking processbased on a certain way of thinking.

What is so special about Design Thinking?

The process is dynamic and iterative. This means that at the end of a phase you can determine that this or the previous one has to be repeated. This is the case, for example, if, after testing a prototype, it turns out that the problem has not yet been solved.

The basic idea behind this method is that through empathy the Product requests and requirements of the customer are met. Because the starting point of design thinking is a point of view that focuses on the customer and his needs. To ensure this, Design Thinking teams are made up of members interdisciplinary background composed. Or as the Hasso Plattner Institute puts it:

The (...) process links engineering methodology with experimental aspects from design theory, looks at users through social science glasses and always has its ears open to new things.

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Design Thinking: A typical process in five phases

The different disciplines ensure that the team members with curiosity and Openness to other points of view approach problems. They are the basis of the creative work culture Design Thinking. The success of this method is based on the interaction of three elements: people, spaces and processes. They dive into the following five phases on:

  1. Customer perspective

    The design thinker puts himself in the place of the customer. He becomes an absolute expert by using all sources in some form Exposure about the customer and his wishes.

    It takes into account all aspects that could affect the customer and the product. Which conditions did the customer think of the product? What does the customer want? Where are the difficulties? An intensive research follows. To do this, the Design Thinker uses the following procedure:

    • He immerses the customer's world and observed: How does the user relate to the product or service?
    • He leads Interviews with customers and non-customers in order to include even the smallest details in the considerations.

    It is crucial that the observations in the respective context to be carried out and not in a vacuum; because in order to understand what a product or service means for people, everyday life has to be viewed through their eyes.

  2. Focus

    The information obtained is bundled and yours Quintessence is used to develop a special sample customer. In this phase the data and impressionswho shared different insights with the team. The information obtained is now presented to the team members.

    That happens by putting the information on the walls of the project room and visualized become. Next through the so-called Storytelling: This is not just about a report, but rather, together with the team, first through questions and links Interpretations Developed. A product or service can now be developed for the sample customer.

  3. Creativity phase

    The findings from the previous phases are the basis for the creativity phase that follows. Now, for example, using brainstorming new in the team Solution ideas generated. Ideally, brainstorming will generate a wealth of ideas. These are now structured and recorded on post-its, sorted and grouped. This means that you get an overview of similar ideas that build on one another.

    The most promising ideas are then selected. Criteria for it are Attractiveness, practicability and economy. Although the focus is still on the customer, it is typical of Design Thinking that the aspect of Attraction is given greater importance than the rest of the factors.

  4. prototype

    So that the team can let off steam creatively, there are materials and spatial conditions with space for Presentation areas of great importance. There is tinkering. Using the simplest materials, prototypes of a product, for example made of wood, Lego bricks or paper, are developed. But role plays are also conceivable in order to make a service tangible and to be able to test it on the target group.

  5. presentation

    The prototype of the product is presented to the customer. How is the product received? What does the customer like, what is viewed more critically? The guiding principle of the customer in the center also comes into play here. Because the goal is by no means a quick sale, but this one Dress rehearsal serves to gain knowledge:

    Where else could or must Changes be made so that the customer can be satisfied? On the basis of the knowledge gained here, the product or service is improved and refined until the end result is an optimal, user-oriented product.

Design Thinking: Example using a call center

How can Design Thinking look like in detail? Let's assume that a call center is struggling with high employee turnover.

  1. This phase is used for the exact Research and observation through employee appraisals. Routines and working conditions can thus come to light. In addition, employees are directly involved and asked about possibilities for improvement.
  2. This phase determines the Problems: Employees have too few breaks, low wages, neck problems and little chance of further development. In addition, there is high pressure on the part of the line manager to handle as many customers as possible in a short time.

    Understanding: The motivation among the employees is correspondingly low. Conversely, it doesn't take much for the competition to get well-trained staff.
  3. This phase is about that Elaboration possible solutions to improve team cohesion and reduce fluctuation.
  4. The last phase for the time being: a prototype in shape regular meetings is presented. These should serve to discuss responsibilities and clarify open questions, but also include fun and interaction. In addition, neck massages should be offered from time to time.

Result: The employees get to know each other better through regular meetings. Problems are now addressed directly here. A 15-minute neck massage and a discounted membership in the fitness club can increase employee satisfaction and reduce fluctuation.

Design thinking sees failure as an opportunity

The great Profit of Design Thinking consists in the fact that the human being is at the center of the considerations. Critical suggestions and needs can be expressed so that the product can be adapted accordingly. This also means that failure is factored in from the start in this method.

At the latest in the last phase, when a prototype is presented, it can turn out that the product has to be completely revised. Design thinking practices one openness with regard to results and errors: Failure as an opportunity in a way. Of course, errors should be recognized as early as possible. However, they are still seen as a benefit for the innovation process, since uncovering them can potentially save high development costs.

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17th October 2020Author: Anja Rassek

Anja Rassek studied, among other things, German language and literature at the WWU in Münster. She worked for community radio and a publisher. Here she devotes herself to topics related to the office, everyday work and studies.

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