Design is everywhere.
It's not just about aesthetics; it's a process of creating solutions. Design influences our daily experiences and behaviors, from physical products to digital interfaces. It plays a critical role in shaping the world we live in.
But design is not limited to professionals. Anyone can use design to create solutions and improve the world around them. How? Through design thinking.
In a nutshell, design thinking is an out-of-the-box approach that puts people at the center of problem-solving. It redefines solutions to pressing issues, no matter what field they are in.
In today's rapidly changing world, businesses and organizations face an ever-growing list of complex challenges. Many of them are turning to design thinking to overcome these obstacles. Here are some of the benefits of this approach:
Through design thinking, the potential for workarounds is boundless. Check out these innovations for examples:
Starting as a service that delivered films to doorsteps, Netflix used design thinking to improve its business model and become a renowned streaming site amidst competitors. One leverage they used was artificial intelligence, which made the experience unique for each user based on their viewing habits. By recognizing the demands of their customers through empathy, they could meet the market's expectations in the long run.
In 2009, Airbnb faced financial struggles and was close to bankruptcy. However, they employed design thinking principles, specifically empathizing with user preferences, to transform their business. Their innovative solution involved enhancing the presentation of their services by posting higher-quality photos of their listings to attract more rentals. This strategic move proved highly effective, resulting in a doubling of their weekly earnings.
Limitless Lab, a global social innovation company based in the Philippines, co-designed #DigiTalino, a curriculum to tackle the challenges associated with fake news.
Using design thinking, the team created a toolkit that promoted critical thinking and media literacy skills to combat the spread of misinformation in the country, used by master trainers all over the Philippines.
With the low tech adoption rate in the Filipino farming community, Limitless Lab, together with DA-ATI and PLDT-Smart, co-created a three-tiered training program that teaches farmers about different tech tools.
The team conducted a full-day design thinking workshop to understand the challenges and needs of the farming community, then designed practical and bite-sized modules highlighting the different tools farmers need to increase farm productivity and income.
Getting started with design thinking means understanding its 5-step process. Understand, however, that design thinking is not linear. Organizations can decide on which step is best for them depending on where they are in the innovation process.
A good way to begin these steps is by conducting a design sprint. It is a time-limited, collaborative process where a team works intensively to solve problems, generate ideas, create prototypes, and test them quickly. Limitless Lab employed this method and obtained valuable insights that inspired their objective of creating #DigiTalino, a solution tailored to the Filipino audience. Here are some ideas to get you started on your design thinking sprints:
This is a visual tool that helps brainstorm, organize, and connect ideas around a central theme in a structured and engaging way.
This is a technique for generating a large number of diverse ideas quickly, encouraging the free flow of thoughts without criticism or judgment.
This is a process that visually groups ideas, data, or information based on their relationships or similarities to identify patterns and insights.
This is a visual representation of a storyline, usually in the form of illustrations or images arranged in a sequence.
These are fictional characters that represent a group of users, based on research and data, to help you understand the needs and behaviors of your target audience.
These are visual representations that illustrate the steps customers take to engage with a company, highlighting their pain points and opportunities for improvement.
The facilitator of a design thinking sprint must have ample knowledge of the process, strong facilitation skills, and excellent communication abilities. While subject matter knowledge is beneficial, it is not mandatory. They should be open-minded, adaptable, empathetic, and patient, considering the iterative nature of design thinking.
Preparing for a design sprint involves several key steps to ensure a smooth and successful session:
By following these steps, you can effectively set the stage for a productive and successful collaborative problem-solving process.
Whether it's developing products and services, driving business innovation, addressing social issues, or even improving everyday life, design thinking can help generate creative and effective solutions.
Here are six ways that design thinking can be applied in various contexts:
To effectively apply design thinking, it is essential to start with empathy, embrace ambiguity, experiment with ideas, and collaborate with stakeholders. By adopting these key principles, teams can develop innovative, user-centered solutions that address real-world problems and create positive impact.
In the Philippines, the approach is already gaining traction. Limitless Lab, a global design and social innovation agency that co-creates innovation with governments, NGOs, and corporations, is pioneering the use of design thinking. Since 2018, they have collaborated with organizations and individuals, including The Asia Foundation, Smart Communications, and Microsoft.
Interested in learning more about design thinking or co-designing a social innovation? Hit us a message!