In design thinking participates use divergent and convergent thinking, which can lead to better brainstorming. During divergent thinking, there’s a free-flow of ideas. Employees are encouraged to cast a wide net and explore as many possible solutions as they can; there’s no “bad idea” during this phase. From there, the team works together to “converge” on the concept they think will most resonate with customers and meet the company’s business goals. During convergent thinking, some teams will vote on the top three ideas they believe have the most potential—democratizing the process.
Design thinking is broken down into five overall phases, according to the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, where IDEO Founder and Stanford Professor David Kelley initially conducted his research. Those steps are:
- Empathize: Observe and engage with users to discover their pain points, wants, and needs.
- Define: Go through your research and note what stood out as you were talking to customers. Define the actual problem.
- Ideate: This is where divergent and convergent thinking come in. Here is where you brainstorm potential solutions to the problem.
- Prototype: After selecting the top idea, start building a prototype, even if it’s just using paper and pen.
- Test: Put the prototype in users’ hands and iterate the product based on their feedback.
Design thinking can spark creativity and provide companies with a better understanding of their end user. Rather than build around what senior leadership thinks the problem is, employees can develop and deliver products they know their customers want.
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