How To Innovate With A Design Thinking Mindset

Trent Weier

Design thinking has changed enormously since I was first introduced to it back in 2009. In that time, its prevalence has skyrocketed, and it has become a default service for many leading consulting and advisory firms. Meanwhile, many of the world’s largest companies have also embedded design lead philosophies into their process to design, iterate, and build solutions.

Recently, many have argued that its relevance and effectiveness has diminished due to oversaturation, citing a lack of competitive advantage and a wasteland of failed attempts as the main contributors. So now that design thinking is everywhere, is design thinking dead?

As design thinking relies on a set of tools and a prescribed structure, the potential for the process to go stale, especially for long-term users, is very real. This loss in confidence is exacerbated when the latency between thinking and implementing the outcomes is excessive.

In a recent Forrester report, leading global companies explain how they have embraced design thinking that helps them innovate and improve the way they operate as an organisation. You can download the report here.

A reality built on innovation

Times have changed. Customers have changed. Business has changed, and all these changes demand innovation. It is impossible for a business to compete and thrive without innovating—too many once-successful companies have disappeared because they believed what worked yesterday and today would continue to work tomorrow.

By that very nature, design thinking isn’t dead, nor will it disappear any time soon. However, to remain relevant, it too must adapt and evolve from simply asking “why?” to asking “how might we?”

With prevailing technology trends driving unprecedented change and transformation across all industries in all markets, time to value through minimising the gap between thinking and implementation is key to gaining and maintaining competitive advantage. The traditional design thinking structure of “explore, ideate, and synthesize” is proven in the pursuit of unforeseen innovation, but it often places little emphasis on empathy for the end user or customer and their overall experience.

This has created the need for rapid prototyping and design activities embedded into the design thinking methodology to demonstrate the to-be process and end user value for the selected use cases. Tools like SAP Build enable high-fidelity rapid prototyping designed to create screen mock-ups and interactive clickable wire frames specifically for end-user validation and showcasing “how might we.”

Moreover, this allows companies to accelerate their time to value and reduce the risk of failure and excessive cost, with added focus on:

  • People: Design thinking should be empathetic and personal in nature; it doesn’t exist without people. The approach needs to be in tune with real customers with real problems, empowering companies to create real solutions to meet their needs.
  • Fail fast: 8 out of 10 businesses fail. Design thinking eliminates the risk of ultimate failure by encouraging failure. Systematically developed to encourage experimentation coupled with prototyping and feedback, this allows companies to fail and fail fast, fast-tracking recognition and elimination of weak areas and leading to ultimate success.

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Trent Weier

About Trent Weier

Trent brings 15 years of technology strategy, execution and digital value creation experience to SAP and its many customers. As a member of the industry value engineering team, Trent is focused on the chemicals, energy and natural resources sectors, showcasing to customers the business value of challenging traditional business models while creating disruption through industry leading innovation.