Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation
During my internship at Li & Fung in Hong Kong, I was fortunate to express my passion in the work I did with the open innovation unit. In this article, I share what design thinking is and how it can help us do things differently. Please note that I am not an expert in the topic and I do not take credit for ideas that aren’t mine.
What is design thinking?
Design thinking is a methodology. Nothing super complicated or fancy. Like many methodologies that exist, it’s just one of the ways to approach a given challenge. What distinguishes this as an approach is that it is solution-focused. This is an important distinction as design thinking is focused on future client/consumer. This approach is also evidence-backed and relies little on intuition. To understand this better, it is beneficial to understand abductive reasoning.
I came across this amazing article by Caerid about abductive reasoning. I will borrow examples and summarize it here but I encourage you to read it!
Deductive reasoning is the simplest form of reasoning. Chris is a dog. All dogs can bark. Therefore, Chris can bark. In deductive reasoning, the conclusion is always true when the premises are true.
Inductive reasoning weighs in our experiences. Every dog I’ve seen has a tail. Therefore, the next dog that I see will have a tail. As this example illustrates, inductive reasoning gives us a likelihood that the conclusion will be true. It tells us how weak or strong our conclusion is.
Unlike the above two, abduction is the act of sense-making and the process of serendipity. When it rains, the grass gets wet. The grass is wet, so it may have rained… (this is a fallacy if taken as absolute and deductive). Abductive reasoning involves working out the best explanations given the circumstances, and given the experiences of the reasoner. It is an analogical process. Deductive reasoning can be measured by validity and soundness; inductive reasoning can be measured by strength/likelihood; abductive reasoning is unique because two different reasoners can abduce two different answers.
Design vs. Design Thinking
“It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
— Steve Jobs
Many people confuse design with design thinking. While there isn’t one definition of design, there is one for design thinking. Professor John Heskett, the former Dean, and Professor of design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design defines design as follows:
Design thinking, on the other hand, can be illustrated by the following diagram:
Design thinking in my work at The Wørkshop
Due to reasons of confidentiality, while I am not able to share my work in detail publicly, I will briefly describe the projects where I used this process.
- While creating wireframes for a consumer survey iPad application, I employed this approach to design the various prototypes of the application. The application was used for an internal brand launch and was targeted towards company employees.
2. My fellow intern and I used design thinking to create user personas for creating the Wørkshop’s social media strategy. Using this method of reasoning, we were able to define our target users and capture their preferred social media platforms. We also won the Rockstar award for our work. The Rockstar award is given to individuals for going above and beyond what was expected of them.
How this ties into innovation
Design thinking allows us to better define the problem statement and attain the single most important component of growth for most organizations in today’s economy: Innovation.