3 Steps to Develop your Product with Design Thinking


Design Thinking is a concept which has revolutionised the field of product development. It is defined as a new way of thinking, a cyclical approach of iteration, creativity and “beyond-the-box” development. But when we distil this down to the bare essentials, what really is Design Thinking?

The answer is simple... It is a guide towards your goal.

A guide which pushes ideation and application, together, as a driver for tailored design. Its steps are varied, and can occur at any time, even multiple times, throughout the design process, but the core drive remains the same. Ideation, Iteration and Implementation.

What problem are you trying to solve? This is your goal. Your end point, where you see the future improved by your product, service, system and/or environment. How does your idea, work towards this solution? Who would use it? Why would they use it? What do they use right now?

Without a clearly defined problem, it is difficult to understand true needs, and without this understanding, conducting research and empathising with your end user, is nearly impossible. But how much research do you do?

There isn’t a number or guide which can tell you how much research is enough to understand the market and positioning of your idea. What you really need to know is whether your concept fulfills the wants of your target audience. This is achieved through ethnographic research, observing and asking the target audience about their interactions with other products, like and dislikes, in order to develop an ideal feature wishlist. Finding out the who, what, when, where and why behind your product in order to understand how to best design it for the market.

This ideation step is a core focus at B.Product and we strive to understand the target consumers for our clients.  During the research phase of our work on the Pulse: Holter Monitor, we found, through ethnographic research, that difficulty, complexity and excessive hardware were major gripes for current systems, shared by patients and clinicians alike. Using this information, we were able to envision an end goal which posed add value, posed a solution, to the current system. Without this understanding of the current methods, equipment, and market feedback, we cannot develop a system which adds value to the lives of consumers.

1. Research & Define Your Problem


What problem are you trying to solve? This is your goal. Your end point, where you see the future improved by your product, service, system and/or environment. How does your idea, work towards this solution? Who would use it? Why would they use it? What do they use right now?

Without a clearly defined problem, it is difficult to understand true needs, and without this understanding, conducting research and empathising with your end user, is nearly impossible. But how much research do you do? 
There isn’t a number or guide which can tell you how much research is enough to understand the market and positioning of your idea. What you really need to know is whether your concept fulfills the wants of your target audience. This is achieved through ethnographic research, observing and asking the target audience about their interactions with other products, like and dislikes, in order to develop an ideal feature wishlist. Finding out the who, what, when, where and why behind your product in order to understand how to best design it for the market.

This ideation step is a core focus at B.Product and we strive to understand the target consumers for our clients.  During the research phase of our work on the Pulse: Holter Monitor, we found, through ethnographic research, that difficulty, complexity and excessive hardware were major gripes for current systems, shared by patients and clinicians alike. Using this information, we were able to envision an end goal which posed add value, posed a solution, to the current system. Without this understanding of the current methods, equipment, and market feedback, we cannot develop a system which adds value to the lives of consumers

2. Ideate & Iterate


You take all of your ideas, everything you have brainstormed, and reshape it. Take the good, the bad, the safe and the crazy concepts you came up with and reform them. You mould them, fuse them, discard them and collate them until you have set of core ideas. Concepts which meet our goal, solve our problem and fit with our research. So now what?

Now you prototype. You build, in many stages. From cardboard, to foam, to 3D printing, gradually bringing our concepts to life, learning throughout the development. Will the first prototype be perfect? Rarely. Instead each step brings us closer to our goal, our product solution

This stage is fundamental to the design thinking approach. Only so much information can be conveyed on paper or digitally. By building, you bring your idea into the physical realm, in order to better understand what works, what doesn’t, ideal size, shape, form and function, everything required to ensure the product is fit for purpose, and looks good.  

Dyson products, one of the pinnacle firms in innovative design, emphasize the importance of cardboard modelling, quick visualisation to understand the product. This sentiment, development through touch and visualisation, is one we share at B.Product. We aim to experiment with concepts using all tools and materials at our disposal, in order to create and innovate for product design. 

3. Select & Implement


What combination of factors worked best? Which prototype pushes us forward to achieve our goal? Why? Once you find out what works best, you compile your learnings into the finished product. Over time the idea is usually refined and tweaked, but each time you identify a problem, the design thinking approach starts again, with a new goal in mind.

Will a product always succeed if you utilise design thinking? No. And it won’t for any other method either. But regardless of the final outcome, the true benefit comes from knowledge gained. To quote Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.”
 

The design thinking process is by not a one size fits all methodology, but rather varies from case to case, from organisation to individual. As such, it is important to understand that the concept is more “way-of-thinking” than it is a guideline to success. Following the “rules” of design thinking does not guarantee success, but it is a tool that can help make a solution clear. It is important to understand that in order to reach its ultimate effectiveness, design thinking must be used collaboratively with multidisciplinary thinking, utilising the expertise of people from many fields in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

At B.Product, we work to cultivate a wide base of technical knowledge, both in-house and through our partners in manufacturing, intellectual property and commercialisation. It is impossible to be an expert in every field, but through cooperation and collaboration, it is possible to drive innovation forward and ensure good design.

Ultimately, the goal of design thinking is to instill an “open” minded framework for product development. To be both flexible and driven, to draw creative and simple solutions from complex problems and, in the end, to drive home the notion that innovation and learning walk hand-in-hand. To show that reaching your goal is not as simple as checking the boxes of a design pathway, but rather, a culmination of creative thinking, hard work, constant iteration and smart implementation of ideas to provide strong, understandable and relatable solutions of defined problems.


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