Why you need Design Thinking in an agile world?

In a digital world, technology disruptions are affecting the lives of consumers and businesses equally. The control, however, has shifted into the hands of consumers. It is they who decide what stays (and what goes away). Enterprises should listen to what customers want and innovate. Design thinking can help.

Listen to what your customers want 

The world is changing fast. Technology is disrupting the ways consumers and businesses think and interact. The influence of social media is growing. All this is empowering customers to take control of their choices, likes, and preferences. Customers expect their favorite brands to understand their needs. They want brands to provide them with solutions based on this understanding. And they are very clear about it.

Why do products fail?   

Every year 80-90% of products that come to the market fail.


  • Bad product design
  • A high-level leader
  • Value for money
  • Does not answer customers’ needs

What would be your answer?

Well, if you ask me, none of the first three. For if it were, products like Segway, the two-wheeled transportation device, Google Glass and Amazon FirePhone would not have failed. They were all great products – good designs, great concepts, disruptive innovations – but, they still failed in the market. There is one thing common among these three products though – they did not solve a customer issue or respond to a user need.

As Clayton Christensen, the innovation guru, said that for a successful product in the market it is important for the product to solve a customers’ need. Anything else, and you will perish sooner or later – even if the product is predicted or promoted as a game changer or as a disruptive innovation.

User-centered innovations

By understanding what customers want and developing an idea or product around it can help organizations develop user-centered innovations. However, more often than not, the development process fails to sustain the focus on the user-problem.

An organization by adopting the design-centric culture inherits a set of principles that enables its people to have a common platform and language to discuss ideas. It also enables them to bring the feasible ideas to life.

As Tim Brown, IDEO, says, “Design thinking is a system that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business can convert into consumer value and market opportunity.”

Here’s how Design Thinking works

There are many definitions of Design Thinking available on the Internet. Irrespective of the multiple explanations offered by different thinkers and writers, at the core Design Thinking is all about 3 Principles:

  1. Observation, recognition and empathy for users
  2. Ideation and innovation
  3. Iteration for constant improvements

Design thinking is primarily about a disciplined approach to understand your target customers and their needs. Followed by an empathetic approach to framing and reframing the problem statement. Then facilitate and promote active participations of diverse team of stakeholders vertically and horizontally across an organization for brainstorming of ideas. Ideas that are not design-centric alone, but ideas that attempt at solving the user-issue defined in the problem statement. This is very important – to maintain the course of the thinking process. It is also important to keep in mind that shortlisted ideas should be feasible technologically and economically. And lastly, but not in the least, do not stop there. Continue the process based on customers’ feedbacks this time and improve the product, solution or the model.

Applying Design Thinking

One of the best applications of Design Thinking in medical design is the area of prosthetics. Some of the oldest prosthetics were made of wooden or metal blocks. However, in the late 16th century French Army surgeon designed one of the most advanced prosthetic of that time. This prosthetic allowed the flexibility to bend the knee, and therefore increased mobility. Since then continuous effort to improve prosthetics has been on due to many war casualties. With recent technological disruptions, medical devices companies gathering more user information to understand their needs better. They are collaborating with users and other stakeholders in the medical world to develop sophisticated prosthetics that can imitate the functionality and mobility of a biological limb. Touch Bionics is one such company that manufactures hand prosthetics with advanced gesture control and manipulations. It allows the user greater mobility and increased strength.

Similar user-centered innovations will soon be visible in other areas of medical technology as well.


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