It is fair to say Design Thinking is the New Normal; there are many lessons to back up this claim.
In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy after 128 years of being a market leader, simply because it failed to predict the disruptive power of the digital camera. Ironically, in 1975, a Kodak engineer, Steven J. Sasson, invented the first digital camera. In an interview with the New York Times, Sasson describes how Kodak’s management reacted negatively to his camera because it was filmless photography, instructing him to tell no one about it.
His experimental variant was shelved amid fears of an adverse impact on Kodak’s core product sales.
It is evident that products, like their customers, are always on the evolution curve, and require smarter strategies. This is exactly where Design Thinking plays a pivotal role, combining product innovation with a steady eye on current and latent user demands.
Design thinking is a solution-oriented, human-centered approach to innovation. Consumer considerations lie at the heart of a design thinking approach.
Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO identified insight, observation, and empathy as the three key elements at the core of a design-based roadmap.
Taking a leaf from his seminal work, her e are 6 organizations that put these principles into action, therefore successfully reimagining their business outlook:
1. Rationalize the offering bouquet – Apple takes a ‘stripped-down’ approach
“Make it look good! That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”Steve Jobs
This is how Steve Jobs redefined design for a customer-centric universe.
Apple deployed design thinking to completely reposition themselves in the consumer electronics market. With an acute understanding of prevailing market conditions, Apple discontinued 2 business lines, reduced their core product catalog from 13 to just 3 – leading to a 2000% increase in share prices over 10 years.
2. Discover ‘human’ undercurrents – Denver Museum restructures its pricing strategy
Denver Museum of Nature & Science unraveled the many complexities in visitor demands, enabling services that would enjoy wider acceptance. Conceptualizing a discount program for low-income visitors, the museum took their ideas to the larger community – fine-tuning the plan, gathering feedback and creating a focused prototype and testing model.
Interestingly, the initiative revealed a few key observations – family-driven activities over singular, budget options.
3. Manage customer expectations – AirBnB boosts retention rates
AirBnB increased guest-host harmony by addressing the unique challenge of pairing dissimilar clients. Combining analytics and data from over 100 quantitative surveys, the ‘Why Hosts Reject’ review laid out several logistical (and emotional) explanations.
AirBnB dramatically minimized host reluctance by sharing customized guest-information portfolios, built on a ‘tree-structure taxonomy of reasons’. Design thinking and design research informed their strategic decision making.
4. Expand the customer base – Microsoft embeds inclusivity in development
Microsoft uses Design Thinking principles to develop products with greater – and universal – usability. For instance: a font and text-wrapping system addressing those with reading impairment; and a Bing Map version utilizing common landmarks for easy navigation.
The company’s Design Thinking toolkit, Inclusive Design identifies gaps in user experience; broad-basing brand presence for a wider and all-encompassing customer footprint; and opening up their products and experiences to more people with a wider range of abilities, preferences and affordability.
5. Innovate with a purpose – Healthcare adds empathy to industrial design
In the future, Design Thinking will have a profound impact on customer engagement across sectors – industrial designer Doug Dietz’s CT/MRI scanner is an iconic example. A workshop on Design Thinking at Stanford University equipped him with the tools needed for ‘empathy-driven’ industrial design.
He observed that pediatric patients were battling acute stress, requiring sedation when scanned. Dietz transformed the CT/MRI suite into imaginary landscapes – camps, outer space or oceanic views— customer satisfaction, as a result, climbed to 90%.
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