What Is Design Thinking and How Can it Help Your Business?

Design thinking is a methodology for creative problem solving. It’s popular among prominent businesses such as Nike and Starbucks because the process fosters a sense of teamwork, empathy for the end-user, and outside-the-box thinking. 

It began at Stanford Design School in the 1960s and was popularized by IDEO, a global design company, in the 90s. Though its roots are in design, Design thinking can be used to solve any type of complex problem, from changing a company’s toxic work culture to designing a new social media app.

The process has 5 stages

1. Empathize — Understand your user’s needs.

Gather as much information as possible to get a full picture of the end-user’s needs and what problems may arise as the idea development moves forward.

2. Define — Spell out your user’s needs and problems.

Traditional problem-solving methods often lead to thinking about the problem too much from the perspective of the company. Using the data gathered in step one, define your issue in a human-centric way.

For example, if your company’s problem is a high turnover rate that increases recruiting and onboarding costs, you want to flip it to your employees’ point of view. “We need to improve our company culture so employees feel valued and can see a future with us” would be a good problem statement for that issue.

3. Ideate — Challenge assumptions and encourage lateral thinking.

This step embodies the philosophy that there are no bad ideas in brainstorming. Think big. Get as much of your team involved as possible to collect a broader range of perspectives. You want to generate a large pool of innovative ideas.

4. Prototype — Turn your ideas into real-life solutions.

Depending on the problem you’re trying to solve, you may not need to create an actual prototype. The essence of this step is to prevent your team from getting stuck in the ideation phase. Take the most viable ideas generated in step 3, and create a plan to get them in front of users.

5. Test — Put your prototype into action and collect feedback from users. 

Once the initial plan or prototype is in place, it’s tested with audiences and tweaked based on their feedback. Don’t be afraid of multiple iterations. When you make these changes to align your solution with your end-user’s needs, you’re creating a more successful product or service.

Why your company needs it

Innovative problem solving leads to innovative solutions. Design thinking leaves behind accepted wisdom and prepackaged ideas in favor of collecting research directly from the intended audience. 

Analyzing this information provides valuable data to base your solution around. By the time you reach the prototype step, you’ll already have a solution that closely relates to your end user’s pain point. From there, it’s just a matter of making a few tweaks until you’ve perfected your final service or product. 

Design thinking can also help your business because it emphasizes moving quickly from ideation to prototypes. This prevents companies from getting stuck in a loop of constant brainstorming without action. 

With this methodology, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of your clients, customers, or employees, and that information will prove valuable long after your initial issue has been solved. 

How Onehub supports the design thinking process

A Onehub Workspace is where your design thinking project will live. It’s a digital HQ. All the market research you’ve collected will be stored there. It’s also where your team will collaborate on files as they work to define the end-user’s needs, brainstorm creative solutions, and develop prototype plans.

Your team has easy access to a variety of tools to help keep the design thinking process moving forward smoothly. 

Secure file sharing

Design thinking can lead to radically innovative ideas, and you don’t want your competitors to get their hands on them! Onehub secure file sharing keeps your data safe in the cloud with bank-level encryption and extensive control over the roles and permissions of invited users. You can also add automatic watermarks to your files to protect your intellectual property.

Task management

Design thinking is meant for complex, unruly problems with a lot of moving parts. Onehub can help you keep the process organized with task management. You can easily assign tasks to any invited user, and you’ll be notified when it’s completed. From the tasks tab, you can view all tasks that you’ve assigned or that have been assigned to you. It’s a simple way to track progress and make sure everyone knows what their role is.

Collaboration tools

The design thinking method of problem solving is heavily dependent on a team’s communication. Our Workspaces provide messaging, comments, and notifications that make it simple for colleagues to reach out for clarification or contribute new, ingenious ideas. Collaborating remotely with teammates without leaving the platform keeps everyone focused on the task at hand.  

Approval workflows

Once you get to the ideation and prototype stages, you’ll likely be involved in reviewing changes to the project as they’re added. With Onehub, you’re able to preview a file and quickly approve or deny the updates. Timely approval workflows keep the design thinking process from stagnating.

File syncing

Automatic file syncing is essential for collaborative teams tackling a problem with design thinking. Updates need to be available for all team members in real-time. Without this, employees will waste valuable time working with outdated information. This can bring the project’s progress to a halt and cause a lot of confusion. 

With automatic file syncing, everyone is on the same page no matter what device they’re using or where they’re located.

Pairing Onehub with your design thinking process creates a secure, effective system that can help move your business forward with new, inspired ideas. Sign up today for a 14-day free trial.