“Design thinking” is the name given to a framework of proven methods for finding the best possible solutions. Its roots are in the highly effective mindsets and techniques that designers have been using for decades to create new products, but in recent years design thinking has expanded to address challenges outside the realm of typical design problems.
Design thinking has emerged as a powerful tool for creation of innovative services and experiences across the whole range of human experience. Examples of design thinking in action span a wide range, from improving medical outcomes in impoverished villages to increasing philanthropic giving.
Design thinking, at its heart, is human-centered. It includes many specific methodologies and tools, but the overall process looks like this:
Design thinking is a naturally collaborative process. By involving a variety of stakeholders with diverse perspectives throughout the process, you will develop a wide set of innovative solutions. You’ll be able to tap the very best thinking of your organization, while building alignment for new programs long before you launch them. Design thinking methods can be used by non-designers, so using design thinking methods will help train your entire organization to think more like designers in their daily job.
Customer research (or user research) is a field of qualitative research that focuses on deeply empathizing with your customers and people you serve. It helps you understand people’s needs, behaviors, motivations and decision-making. Customer research is critical to creating products and services that people love, which in turn, creates business growth through positive word-of-mouth and brand loyalty. The rich insights that you gain from user research will improve your business in many ways, and can be applied to product development, marketing, sales, customer support, advertising, and more.
User research is different than just talking to your customers because we are trained in using specific methodologies that unlock deep insights and empathy such as ethnographic research, interviewing, diary studies, usability tests, and more.
User research is different from market research in that it helps you deeply understand people’s behaviors, how they think and why they behave or think a certain way. Market research is better at answering what people say and the demographic data of large sample sizes. We work with small sample sizes and go really deep to understand and empathize with the human aspects of your customers.
Next Leap can help you with all aspects of design thinking, from customer or donor research to facilitated innovation workshops to idea validation. Next Leap can also work with your organization to train your staff on effective innovation techniques.