Design Thinking in Practice

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What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is the cognitive, strategic and practical process behind the development and improvement of products, services, applications and more, and encompasses a range of analytical processes including:

  • Audience research
  • Empathetic analysis
  • Situational and contextual analysis
  • Ideation
  • Problem framing
  • Prototyping
  • Experimentation

Today, with technology playing a major role in designing innovative solutions to solve problems, newly-developed design thinking approaches have emerged. The Juran approach to design thinking consists of utilizing a simple methodology to:

  • Develop new goods and services
  • Develop new processes to deliver those goods and services
  • Solve complex problems that do not lend itself to traditional problem-solving methods and faster.

Each method can be used together or separately to meet the design charter.

It starts and ends with the customer. Every new good or service in development has some amount of trade-off involved. If there are multiple customers, they may have conflicting needs with each other and with stakeholders such as business functions like sales, marketing, finance, etc. Even the same customer may have needs that compete with each other.

Capacity and speed compete with the cost of operation. Capacity can compete with speed. Flexibility and feature-rich offerings may have reduced ease of use, and so on. By discovering the customers and finding hidden needs, new and innovative features can be “designed in” while understanding the process capability of the operation to assure highly profitable and saleable new goods and services.

The Juran method of design thinking includes a range of tools intended to make these tradeoffs explicit and optimal for the customer and the stakeholders. Most of the tools are non-statistical and relate more to understanding customer behavior. The Juran approach to design thinking sets strong expectations for creative approaches to functional design, features, and setting targets and goals.


Design Thinking Methodology – How Do We Do It?

This method extends beyond Agile Design thinking and provides a simple 3 or 6 phase approach.

The first three phases: Define – Discover – Design Product Features are used to create innovative goods and services and the next three are focused on creating innovative processes or solve process problems that may prevent the innovation goods or services from being delivered to customers.

The second three phases: Design Process Feature – Develop Controls – Deliver to Operations focuses on design or redesign of operational processes to deliver new or existing goods and services.

When all six phases are used in order, an innovative good or service can be developed alongside the processes to deliver them.


Why is Design Thinking essential?

For the most part of the 1990s thru 2010, most design methods such as design for six sigma, agile design, and Juran’s quality by design consisted of multi-functional “design teams” working to improve the speed of innovation and taking steps early in the design process to assure that products and services were designed with few defects and be saleable at a fair margin.

The best of these methods, such as Juran’s Quality By Design, focused on “discovering hidden needs of often overlooked customers and designing innovative features to meet those needs. The customer in Juran’s definition went beyond the typical customer – the user or consumer – to include hidden customers such as stakeholders, buyers, operations and the supply chain to assure products and services, and subsequently, processes, were proven to work before shipping or delivering the products and services to those customers.



For more information on design thinking methodology training and certification, and how to implement this at your organization, please get in touch with the team.


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