How do you use Design Thinking for Digitization Processes?

How do you use Design Thinking for Digitization Processes?

July 22, 2020

Maybe you know the situation. Have you been there as well? Nowadays, everyone is talking about digitalization and digital transformation. Obviously, a company has to be digital in order to be competitive and maintain this state of affairs. So the goal is clear. At least to some extent. Because there are still a few questions left unanswered: To what extent should the digital transformation be implemented? Is it sufficient to take care of the internal infrastructure first? Or do we set ourselves equally ambitious goals, such as a smart factory? How do you realize the defined goals? Since most companies have little or no experience in this area, it often makes sense to get external support.

Design Thinking- Heterogeneous teams

One technique for finding a solution together is that of Design Thinking. What makes Design Thinking so special? You can use this method to solve complex problems in all areas of life. Heterogeneous teams consisting of 5-6 people, preferably from different departments, are involved in the innovation process. The more heterogeneous the teams are, the more different the ways of thinking are, for example when the engineer, the creative person, and the controller brainstorm together. Diversity should definitely be taken into account when putting together the teams.

In the Design Thinking Workshops, the newly founded team is accompanied by a methodically trained Design Thinking Coach. The Design Thinking process runs through 6 phases, each of which is iterative. Put simply: You develop something, test, or observe this thesis/prototype in practice and return to the last step with the new findings.

Design Thinking Process

Phase 1: Understanding

In phase 1 the exact problem is defined. For which problem do we need a solution? The members of the team collect as much information as possible and become instant experts.

Phase 2: Observing

The newly founded team goes directly to the place of action and observes the user in his daily work. It is important that the observations are unbiased. This is one of the features that distinguishes Design Thinking from conventional working methods; the considerations are always validated in practice.

Phase 3: Defining a viewpoint

What insights have been gained so far? The insights are bundled.

Phase 4: Finding ideas

In this brainstorming phase, everything is allowed, rockets are launched and castles in the air are built by means of thoughts. No matter how wild, how unconventional, how unusual – every idea is welcome as long as it helps the user to do his daily work better, safer, or more efficiently.

Phase 5: Developing prototypes

Prototypes are then built from the most convincing ideas.

Phase 6: Testing

In the final phase, the developed prototype is tested live on-site, directly at the user’s premises. The user ultimately also decides whether the prototype goes into series production or not. Because regardless of how much the project team favors the prototype, the user is at the center of all considerations. If the user is not convinced of the handling of the design, the problem is not solved. So you fail early on, but then you can go back to one of the previous phases and reconsider.

How can Design Thinking be used for digitization processes?

Dr.Silke Müller, herself a Design Thinking Coach, offers Design Thinking workshops, where she supports clients on their way to digital transformation. She explains what to look out for, especially in the field of digitalization:

“Especially in the field of digitization, one should pay attention to the fact that people are taken along as individuals. The technique of Design Thinking puts the user strongly in the center. What needs does the user have? Where are his or her difficulties? The practical approach is iterative: one observes and registers where the pitfalls lie in everyday work. In a plant, for example, you look at how operators work, what do they actually do? What helps them in their daily business? Solutions are then developed in the form of prototypes. These are demonstrated to the users and feedback is obtained on the extent to which the prototype is helpful for their daily work. What is the practical application of the prototype? What is easy, what is less? What can we improve? The purpose of creating the prototype is to test the developed solution in practice and, if necessary, to fail at an early stage, i.e. before vast amounts of money have been invested”.

Because failure is perfectly acceptable during the Design Thinking process. One can try new ways, beyond the deadlocked paths. By trying out, applying, experiencing, and experiencing, new, innovative solutions are created. Especially in the field of digitalization, there are still many unknown variables and many resentments on the part of employees. Design Thinking can be a solution to bring light into the darkness and to implement the possibilities of digitalization, optimize processes, and to take the human being as an individual along with it.

Enough theory? Would you like to conduct a Design Thinking Workshop in your company? Then register now for a workshop on our seminar page. Dr. Silke Müller is already looking forward to meeting you!

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