DESIGN THINKING – Drowned, mutilated and murdered

Design Thinking

Design thinking has died and it went through a slow miserable death. There are various companies that are using Design Thinking as a “sales tool” to sell more of their product. And organizations are lapping it up. There are many customers that have told me over the last 12 months that they got a design thinking workshop as a free package on buying a software.

Now I am all in for innovative ways of selling. Don’t get me wrong. And doing design thinking workshops is a great idea to sell software – but it has had an adverse effect on the customer's mindset. In this whole process, design thinking has been drowned, mutilated & murdered and because the body is also not found, a pig is presented with lipstick on it.

It is not uncommon that any kind of product workshop or requirement gathering and defining the feature set are labeled as a design thinking workshop. It is also increasingly become the case that the customers have started expecting design thinking to finish in one or two days of the workshop.

It is important to understand that design thinking is not only a process but also a mindset. And adapting to a mindset in different business units of an organization takes time and patience. There needs to be a change management, a design thinking governance, some tools and processes that can define the problem statement and outcomes. Processes that can build empathy towards the users, in all the teams in an organization from top to bottom, is a task that cannot be achieved in a two-day workshop.

And a lack of understanding this, is where the problem starts. We believe that the market requires a correction towards the right mindset and execution of design thinking. So, next time, when somebody mentions the term design thinking in his or her sales pitch, ask yourself these questions: -

1. How will this workshop help my team to implement design thinking in their daily lives – daily standup meetings, product meetings and product roadmap decisions?

2. On what parameters should I map my team or my organization on design thinking? Where do I stand now as an organization adapting to design thinking and where do I want to reach has to be very clear.

3. What are the tools being used for the design thinking workshop – will I get user personas and customer journey maps at the end of the workshop? Or will I get the task flow analysis if it is a complicated enterprise product? It’s important to define the outcome of the design thinking workshop.

4. How do I spread the thought of design thinking using this workshop – how will my whole organization adapt to it.

5. Are there tools and templates being given as a part of the design thinking workshop that can be used even in the future by my team?

These are five basic questions that all design thinking buyers should ask themselves when taking a decision. Design thinking is an important process and mindset to adopt. But like everything else, if implemented incorrectly can result in revenue loss and demotivation in the team.

We are in the process of creating a set of questionnaire that design thinking buyers can use. If you have more such questions, do put it up in the comments.