An overview of Design Thinking techniques:
Start by getting to know the person or people that you intend to help with your product. Collect information and answer a wide array of questions about them. Who are they? What are their personal demographics? What are their normal tasks? What motivates them? What problems do they face? What frustrates them?
You can gather this information from many sources, including surveys, forums, direct observation, and interviews. Then, take all of the information and organize it to describe one or more specific individuals, or personas, who represent your target audience. As you work toward your solution, return to the personas to ensure that what you are building is going to excite them and make them say “Wow.”
After you define one or more personas, get to know them at a deeper level. Capture what they think, what they feel, what they say, and what they do. By doing so, you’ll begin to develop empathy for this person. You’ll use an empathy map to identify their major pain points.
As-is scenarios maps
Next, take an in-depth look at your personas’ primary task scenarios. In an as-is scenario map, document the steps that they take, and as you do, document what they think, what they feel, and at they do along the way.
During this phase, be sure to capture all of the issues and problems that your personas face in their current environment. Capturing issues can be difficult because you might need to candidly discuss the flaws in your current offering. Don’t be afraid to be honest. The more honest you are, the more likely you are to identify the most critical pain points. Ultimately, you develop greater empathy for your personas and gain a deeper understanding of the problems that they face as they try to achieve their goals.
Design ideation and prioritization
After you create a persona, an empathy map, and an as-is scenario map, you’ll understand your target audience and the problems that it faces. You’ll also probably have a few ideas about how to solve their problems and excite them. During design ideation, brainstorm and generate as many ideas as possible. Initially, don’t worry about what is feasible. Generate as many ideas as possible, regardless of whether you know how to implement them. Then, organize those ideas into clusters and decide which clusters have the greatest promise.
To-be scenario maps
At this point, your goal is to create a scenario map. This scenario map, called a to-be scenario map, describes the future state that the adoption of your best ideas leads to. Capture what personas think, do, and feel during this future set of activities. Be sure to capture the “wow” aspect in this new scenario flow. The key question is “Will the person feel compelled to purchase a product that achieves this outcome? Why? Why not?”
To get a better sense of the to-be outcome, it is sometimes useful to create a set of low-fidelity wireframe sketches with various alternatives. These wireframe sketches are not intended to represent a final design. That comes later. At this point, try to sketch potential experiences and their flows. Create a wide array of alternatives, knowing that you might throw away most of them. You can show those alternative sketches to various stakeholders and to actual members of your target audience to get feedback.
A key aspect of IBM Design Thinking is to create a set of testable and measurable hypotheses about what you design and deliver. The hypotheses are generally in this form: “If we provide persona A, with the ability to achieve outcome B, we’ll then be able to measure the impact via metrics X, Y, and Z.” These testable hypotheses help you determine whether you created the compelling product that you hoped to create.
Minimum viable product (MVP)
After you have a set of hypotheses, you can define an MVP. An MVP is the smallest thing that can be built and delivered quickly to test one of your hypotheses and help you learn and evaluate your effort.