Stage 2 – Define
The second stage in the design thinking process is about gaining a definition. In this step, you’ll gather all the insights you’ve developed by talking to consumers and listing them. You’ll list consumer needs, barriers, pain points, lifestyle information, and other influences. This will inform the solutions you are designing for the consumer.
At the ‘define’ stage, design thinkers are encouraged to look for patterns, themes, and trends. Analyze these for unmet needs or unexpected barriers in order to deliver a creative brief, drawing on strategic insights and inspiration from your consultations with consumers. This will inform your design teams and the thought leaders in your organization.
Once your design challenge has been identified and clearly defined, you can move to the next step – ideation and collaboration.
Stage 3 – Ideate and Collaborate
This is where the fun really begins. As you’ve worked to understand the consumer and developed a better picture of the exact problems you need to solve, you can begin designing solutions for that shaped picture. Your creative juices should be brought to the forefront here, as you’ll be expected to brainstorm and get wildly inspirational.
Although multiple professional skill sets may be involved in the ideation phase, your design folks are likely to be leading the way. That being said, everyone needs to come to the table and agree on the solutions that you’ll be developing at this stage of your collective design thinking journey.
During this stage, you’ll brainstorm, build a mind map, and cover the walls of your workspace with sticky notes. All of these methods will be useful in developing ideas and collaborating. Once you’ve developed a brief, it’s also highly recommended that you do a S.W.O.T. analysis to put your ideas to the test. This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis will help determine if your ideas are viable.
Stage 4 – Prototype
Now you’ll come to create a prototype of the product. A prototype means a working, living design of the final product. This may take many shapes depending on your sector. It could be a mock-up of a new website, a walk-through retail experience, a new sales journey, or any other working example to preface delivery of a final, finished product.
The idea here is to rapidly iterate on the prototype, trying different things and making changes as you build it. Again, be creative and courageous in your design. It is not uncommon to change a prototype multiple times during this phase. You should feel encouraged to iron out any issues as they present themselves, even if it may mean developing a whole new prototype. Your team’s input will be invaluable when it comes to correcting preliminary faults, as it’s beneficial to have as many eyes on your prototype as possible before you spend time or other resources on product testing, which brings us to stage 5!