Implementing Design Thinking

N°277b – Synopsis (8p.) – Innovation Strategy
Implementing Design Thinking
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Based on proximity to the end user, on pragmatism and agility, Design Thinking promises to boost innovation. But this method can prove demanding to implement. How can you make the best possible use of it in your organization?

Innovation has become an ever more complex challenge. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, illustrates: “The rule used to be that you’d reinvent yourself once every seven to ten years. Now it’s every two to three years.” The pace of innovation is speeding up, under pressure from fierce competition and the accelerated rate of progress in technological innovations. Consumers demand more customization and will quickly drop a brand for a more distinctive experience elsewhere. Companies must now integrate into their products and services state-of-the-art technologies that are sometimes lacking in maturity. They must also coordinate increasingly sophisticated customer journeys, across both physical and digital channels.

Design Thinking addresses this challenge. It represents an approach for innovation and complex problem solving, made popular by the firm IDEO in the 2000’s. The principle is both simple and common sense: good innovation must associate user desirability with technological feasibility and economic viability. The originality of the method lies in incorporating the end-user as fully as possible into the innovation process, in combining observations on use and empathy with the user, in using prototyping and iterative loops of testing and learning—with the whole thing being led by multidisciplinary teams, to guarantee the realism of the paths being considered.

Many leading companies swear by this method. Disney thus reinvented the experience of visitors to its parks with the Magic Band, a connected bracelet that lets wearers book their favorite attractions without needing to queue. PepsiCo developed Pepsi Spire, a soda fountain with a touch screen that allows users to customize their drinks. Design Thinking is even used to reengineer business organizations’ operations. Thus, Atos used it to redefine the service model of its legal department.

Yet, there is nuance to the returns of experience, and the approach has also experienced some failures. Indeed, too often, companies think they are implementing Design Thinking by applying certain tools—conducting an ethnographic study or working through prototypes for example. In reality, applying this method entails introducing radical disruptions to the way in which innovation is envisioned. How can you successfully lead such a transformation in culture?

In this synopsis: 
- The key components of the Design Thinking approach
- Ensuring the conditions for success of Design Thinking
- Three essential tools of Design Thinking 


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