Digital transformation, business ecosystems, fierce competition: just 2 years into the decade, companies are facing unprecedented challenges. Pressure only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies are now required to be resilient, agile and innovative.

These skills are critical to their survival. We’re in a paradigm shift that is not only redefining work but also requiring organizations to know how to transform using innovative methods. This is the approach—or process—of Design Thinking.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a way of thinking about and approaching problems and finding solutions. It’s a creative, non-linear approach that promotes new ideas. Far from a purely theoretical exercise, Design Thinking finds concrete and viable solutions to complex problems.

Still little used by companies, this method may prove revolutionary for organizations seeking a profound, sustainable—and most importantly—successful transformation.

This process can be undertaken to respond to client needs or to better retain staff. A Design Thinking approach has ripple effects company-wide, from product and service development to improvements that aim to better meet a target audience’s needs, whether it’s that of clients, employees or any of the organization’s other stakeholders.

One characteristic of design thinking is working to stay up to date on issues that need tackling instead of just treating the symptoms. The process, summarized here in five steps, leads directly to discovering pertinent solutions to the real problem.

Empathize, Design Thinking, Icon, phase 1 Empathize: allows you to understand the user’s experience and challenges to clearly identify the problem to resolve or situation to improve. You can use several methods and tools presented in our Design Thinking Toolkit to get a full portrait of their experience and needs.
Define the problem, Design Thinking, phase 2 Define the problem: an analysis of observations lets you identify the real causes and put forward a clear description of the problem, while always seeing from the users’ perspective.
Ideate, Design Thinking, phase 3 Ideate: the creative step. The goal? Get out of a rut and move in forward while always basing your reflection on the user’s perspective. You’ll come out of the ideation process with promising, viable and achievable ideas.
Prototype, Design Thinking Prototype: at this stage, you develop prototypes of your selected ideas as quickly as possible to put them in front of your users, see how users respond and quickly adjust the concept at a minimal cost. The goal is to move our solutions forward in quick, successive iterations.
Test, Icon, Design Thinking Test: the solution is once again tested with the user during this validation phase that will lead to either adopting the solution… or going back to the drawing board!

The process can only be non-linear. Each step can send you back to the previous one or require that you start again from scratch. Every failure or step backward is actually a new opportunity to better understand the problem or refine the solutions.

Download the Design Thinking Toolkit

An approach to tackle business challenges

The approach requires collaboration between all stakeholders of the desired transformation: users, developers, engineers, designers, managers, etc.

Everyone brings their own unique perspective that contributes to the reflection and the ideation processes. This way, we ensure better alignment between all individuals involved—a success factor for the coming transformation.

Pooling resources makes it more likely that people will buy into the proposed and adopted solutions. It also allows all areas of an organization to contribute to the company’s growth and transformation. Finally, this common involvement makes it possible to define a shared vision for the organization, guaranteeing its sustainability and cohesion.

Moving toward profound company transformation

It’s therefore evident how this people-centred approach can be used by companies in all sectors, regardless of their size, to resolve organizational problems of any kind.

By establishing an ongoing dialogue with the users and different stakeholders, Design Thinking is a guaranteed way to simplify processes and technologies. It can also help better identify the required resources and facilitate the provisional management of jobs and skills. What’s more, its incremental approach simplifies financial planning and helps identify new business opportunities.

This innovative approach that transforms the companies that adopt it has already proven successful, and major well-known organizations have been using it for years.

GE Healthcare, for example, centred its reflection process on empathy when designing new medical imaging devices for paediatric patients. Wanting to improve medical examinations for children, the company designed the Adventure Series, a colourful series of devices with different fun and playful themes.

Design Thinking is also what allowed the company Netflix to go from being a movie rental service to the online entertainment giant that it is today. From the beginning, the company set itself apart by creating a mail movie rental service after seeing that customers didn’t like going back and forth to the video store. Their ability to read and understand the market and consumer habits then motivated them to offer streaming services.

Design Thinking’s greatest strength lies in pooling different teams’ ideas and resources. It’s an approach that requires combining stakeholder efforts all stakeholders and creating multifunctional teams, eliminating organizational silos and promoting collaboration. With Design Thinking, every voice counts. It’s an inclusive approach that encourages curiosity and communication. For most organizations, adopting this method is nothing less than the start of a profound and sustainable transformation in the way they do things.

Talsom: unique expertise from strategy to execution

Design Thinking is more than simply a problem-solving tool. Its iterative and cyclical approach transforms companies and their personnel. The process starts with getting a better understanding of the client or user. In the medium term, you come to see the company as not just something that generates profit but an organization that cares about providing products and services that truly meet a need and a demand.

It’s an approach that transforms organizations, plain and simple.

Implementing Design Thinking requires buy-in and openness at all levels of the organization. It’s a profound cultural shift that demands both flexibility and rigour. In addition, for the approach to produce innovation, it must be integrated into the company’s DNA and become the modus operandi for all stakeholders.

Talsom is a management consulting firm specialized in digital transformation and Design Thinking.

Often associated with product development, Design Thinking is a powerful tool to resolve business and organizational problems. Talsom’s approach has proven successful in organizational development and in identifying needs necessary to implement solutions. Its team supports innovative companies at every stage of their transformation, from strategy to execution.

Download the Design Thinking Toolkit

Its step-by-step approach and suggested tools will equip you to put the design thinking method into practice right away.