Startups with design thinking as part of their culture understand their customers’ needs better and … [+]
Most entrepreneurs are inherent design thinkers. They are always looking for problems that can be solved and solutions that can be improved. They are empathetic to customers’ needs and naturally have a curious mind that allows them to look at things unconventionally. This is how they can come up with business ideas and turn them into sustainable startups.
What is design thinking and how can you implement it in your startup? According to Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, “Design thinking is a human-centric approach to innovation.” It is a problem-solving mindset that allows you to look at things through your customers’ eyes while figuring out meaningful solutions for your business. Here’s how to implement the five-stage process of design thinking in your startup.
1. Observe With Empathy
The first step you need to take to implement design thinking in your startup is to start empathizing with your customers, users, and partners. Uber Eats is an example of a startup that is accomplishing its mission of making eating effortless for their customers by implementing design thinking principles.
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The company operates in over 500 cities globally and their designers still regularly immerse themselves in walkabout programs and order shadowing to understand what their customers want to eat, how they like to order, and how the restaurants prepare their menu as well as food.
To empathize, you need to interact. Uber Eats designers regularly visit restaurant workers, delivery partners, and sit in their users’ homes while ordering their food. If you are working on a new product, you can interview your future customers and watch them use competing products.
By looking at things from your customers’ standpoint, your startup can better understand what needs or challenges your customers are facing live and what kind of solutions can work for them.
2. Define The Problem
Once you truly live and understand your customers’ problem, you can review your hypotheses and, in many cases, realize that you may need to redefine your problem and approach it from different angles.
Designers at Uber Eats are encouraged to view their restaurant partners prepare meals and their customers placing orders to define the problems that they may be facing at each step of the food ordering process. It helps them view the problem as not just a logistical one, but also support their conclusions by insights gathered from real customers and partners doing their job.
3. Ideate With Your Team
The next stage of design thinking is to ideate solutions for the problems defined in earlier stages by involving all internal and external team members. Uber Eats involves members from different disciplines to encourage ideation and creativity from different perspectives and experiences. These sessions have led to Uber Eats’s virtual restaurants and pooled deliveries.
4. Prototype Rapidly
Features like “Most Popular Items” was originally proposed as an experiment by the Toronto operations team at Uber Eats. After quickly building, releasing and validating the benefit of this feature, designers and developers collaborated to further develop and launch it across global markets.
Speed is key when developing your prototype. A prototype serves to test ideas quickly so you can learn fast and build your startup idea on a stronger foundation. As a startup founder, it is important to embrace and develop a culture of experimentation in your startup.
5. Test And Validate
Design thinking is an iterative process. Results from your prototype tests can show that you may have misinterpreted customer behavior and needs in steps one and two. Or you may learn that your solution does not address the needs of your customers. This is when you need to go back to the previous steps. However, this time, you will approach the next iteration with an educated eye, which will help you capture the right opportunity, the right way. If not, start again. Eventually, you will inevitably build a successful startup, even if it takes changing ideas.
Design thinking is a powerful tool. If you implement it in your startup, you will be able to win over your customers with sustainable solutions and unlock your startup team’s full creative potential.