The lone scientist working tirelessly in the lab discovers a breakthrough and changes everything; a sudden inspiration comes in a dream; a brainstorming session among the company’s best and brightest leads to the next killer app – all of these scenarios might make for a good movie, but they rarely reflect reality.
Creativity and problem-solving are not individual endeavors, nor do they occur in isolation. Fortunately, these myths are slowly fading as companies embrace new ways of fostering innovation across their organizations. In the past, a company may have approached the creation of a new product or service by defining a set of requirements. Today, many now seek to first understand the actual human needs behind the product or service, to develop an overall experience.
This approach – often called “design thinking” – is based on developing a thorough understanding of what the user goals are from multiple viewpoints – emotional, psychological and behavioral. Through an iterative process of observation, ideation, rapid prototyping and testing, design thinking can help craft an experience that is meaningful to the person engaged with it, one that seamlessly meshes the physical and digital interactions of people, processes and things. Design thinking is not as simple as stringing together a set of methods or tools; rather, it’s a mindset that draws upon the interaction of all these components (see Figure 1).