Design thinking is something we can all do. We are all extremely creative beings. But our culture, within our societies, education's and organizations, do not support a creative process. Creativity equals vulnerability, and you have to be very strong to let yourself be vulnerable. And most of the time we are insecure, overly protective, and very paranoid. In this environment creativity does not blossom. Creativity (and innovation) needs a certain amount of anarchy.
But Design thinking is not an expertise belonging any particular group. It's just that designers can't do their job without it. To be a designer you need empathic ability, lateral thought, iteration, creating new combinations. But we all have those abilities, sometimes they are just a bit under developed, or we are hiding them. But people are not capable of making true rational decisions. There are always feelings like intuition making the real decisions. There is a little designer in all of us (make no mistake, I know there is also such a thing as a talent for designing and learning skills).
There is a sudden rise of interest in design thinking because there is a shift going on. And marketeer and business people are forced to re-think what they are doing. This creates room, spaces for other ideas and ways of thinking. Design thinking is flowing into one of these open spaces.
And most likely it will be integrated into other disciplines. And that's a good thing. Creative thinking can add great value. This is why I always say that design thinking should not be another island, but a bridge. We need to be multidisciplinary. Design thinking can be the bridge... or the glue... or the cement :-)
"- How would a design-thinker approach the process of developing or designing 'a' customer experience? How does that differ from more traditional approaches?"
The biggest difference from traditional approaches is the creative/ open first part of the process. Where everything is open and we are not thinking top-down. And very important, using customer journeys and embracing the complexity of real live. The stuff you can not put on a poster or translate into a tag-lines. Deal with real people in order to create real value.
"- Do you believe that designing the customer experience in a "design thinkers" way contributes to better customer experiences, ultimately resulting in a higher increase of customer loyalty. And if so, why?"
Yes. Designing the experience means using a holistic approach, fitting everything seamlessly together. It is not about designing pretty things, it's all about designing systems. Systems that will support and facilitate the need people have to share.
From wikipedia this simple though vague definition is suggested of design thinking, "the essential ability to combine empathy, creativity and rationality to meet user needs and drive business success." By the suggestions of some others such as Tim Brown, Richard Buchanan, and Roger Martin we can assume one universal aspect of Design Thinking, which is the inclusion of consideration of people, not just creativity and logic. However if we look at a recent article from Bruce Nussbaum another aspect is hinted at which is that of creative logic in the context of designing for people, getting information and inspiration from more places, including the personalities and the humans to be involved. So, perhaps design thinking is the humanizing of other forms of development to some extent.
To me, if we look at it in this way, the design is not the most important part, it is more about the approach to doing and informing process, however, if this is true it is slightly surprising that we use the term Design Thinking so directly. Additionally, if this is true, Design Thinking is more a strategic idea, a way of ensuring more empathetic products, than anything else; I am not sure if this is an agreeable way of looking at things though.
While the Wikipedia description has evolved since I first wrote my own rebuttal (http://twurl.nl/lvlrry), I still believe that the real focus needed is missing.
Yes, based on today's typical business models and methods of operating, Design Thinking often has to be introduced as a strategic concept. In reality, it's true contribution is its holistic breadth and integration. It's both strategic and tactical at the same time. It's quite contrary to the standard business practices.
It demands a shift in focus from business. While there may be many, I see three comparatives of value for such conversations.
Yin | Yang: Businesses are inherently over-yanged. Design Thinking helps move the focus to yin. Design Thinking is a balanced perspective, but to move from the current perspective, there is clearly a shift.
Mystery | Heuristic | Algorithm | Binary Code: Roger Martin's references here are clearly relevant and powerful. Businesses believe that Order is preferred over Chaos, not realizing that perfect order is entropy, or death. Binary Code, is death -- it prevents the change that are natural to living systems. Again a shift toward the heuristic is needed and Design Thinking practices can help with this.
Think | Conceive | Design | Do: This a form of a model I learned from some thought leaders at Boeing. Businesses tend to focus on hiring 'doers'. And most of the people who end up doing 'design' are either the 'doers' or the managers who were once 'doers'. Each is a totally different mindset. Actually, I'm now thinking this is the most powerful continuum, because in reality, Design Thinking focuses on the first two phases. To describe the entire continuum, brilliant minds (thinkers) often have random thoughts that are so beyond everyone else's understanding that it takes someone else who can reinterpret the thought into concepts to make it more accessible to others. While individuals have particular strengths in one or another, often very brilliant thinkers have to force themselves through all the operating perspectives to actually give birth to their thoughts and create something that embodies the thoughts that they cannot convey otherwise. Apple's advertising campaign on the 'crazy ones' was an example of these sorts of people. Indeed, the language of each 'type' of person is so different from another that it is far more difficult for a 'doer' to understand a 'conceiver' -- it takes a 'designer' to interpolate (in practice, this 'designer' in business today is often nothing more than a manager). Sadly, many executive leaders are still 'doers' in approach and thinking -- and are quick to eliminate all activities related to thinking and conceiving as they cannot see the 'practical' value. But they're also businessmen, the 'thinkers and conceivers' have to deliver value. The problem in most companies is that they're all separated from one another.
EDS has a model of "Fellows". Sadly many of them, by my estimation, weren't really great thinkers or even observers -- they were just smart, but not smart enough to realize that what they were doing was of no value in isolation from the whole. They were threatened constantly for being 'cut off'. In this case this would not be a bad idea -- they needed a catalyst to better direct their efforts and integrate them into the whole. Introducing and integrating Design Thinking into all the efforts at EDS would save and capitalize on these resources.
Indeed, in the end the strongest contribution Design Thinking has is as a platform with catalysts for bringing out, embracing and celebrating the true human potential.
[I'd like to suppose that the last is a continuum of thought actualization, but that's just me.]
Thanks to Arne, Mike and Paula for steering us into a lively discussion about "design thinking".
I am following these conversations with a great deal of interest. In the past few years, I have been thinking more about innovation, creativity and design; and the term "design thinking" at the outstart, seems like a misnomer.
Lots of ideas, articles and information for me to digest over this weekend!
See comment by Steven Forth on that page:
"It would be great if you could do some posts on design thinking around the world, including some attention to how culture shapes design thinking. North America seems to me to lag behind Japan, Scandinavia, Germany Italy etc. in many aspects of design thinking and I have seen very interesting work lately from Brazil, India, Korea and China. I suspect there are things happening in Africa, the Arab World … many places that I am not aware of. It would also be interesting to get more insight into the ways in which culture (and economics) shapes design thinking. I just finished reading Mary Soderstrom’s The Walkable City, which is in many ways a design thinking book."