One of the principles of design thinking is that you need to get employees from different departments, who serve various functions, sitting in a room together and working on solving problems. The natural instinct of employees is to look at a problem from the point of view of their job. So a graphic designer looks at the beauty of the design, an engineer looks at the technical features of the product and a sales rep looks at the price. But in order to make the customer happy, each member of the staff needs to step out of his narrow job and look at the big picture. When creating a product, the main goal must be to develop an item that customers will actually want to use.

Although this may seem like an obvious goal, if often gets lost in the organizational shuffle. Each functional group focuses on its own needs and the customer gets forgotten. In fact, when you put people from different groups in the same room, you are likely to be shocked at how little each group knows about what the other groups are doing. These fragmented functions lead to fragmented decisions which adversely affect the product strategy.

Fortunately, the design thinking process can change the way an organization functions, and bring the customer back into the forefront. At design thinking meetings, it soon becomes clear that certain staff members are more aware of the big picture, know which questions to ask and understand how they should work with other functional groups. These employees will lead the way for the entire staff to begin to think about the customer’s needs and wants.

Once employees shed their job descriptions and start thinking about the customer, they can shift their perspective from what the product should be or do to what the customer is trying to achieve. Asking what the customer’s motivation is and what success looks like for him, how he will interact with your product and how it will solve his problem are questions which lead to the development of a higher-quality product.

The first time you bring design thinking into your organization, it may take some time for staff to start thinking the way you want them to. But the initial investment is worthwhile, since you will soon identify the top players in customer-centric thinking and can create smaller groups to utilize techniques of design thinking in the future. And the more times you use these techniques, the more they will be absorbed into your company culture. Eventually, customer-centric thinking will become the norm instead of a newfangled idea.

The added value to bring design thinking into your organization is to avoid that new products remain on the selves.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.