4 December 2019

What is Design Thinking?

What is Design Thinking, the phrase that is on the mouths of all intakers and intrapreneurs? Design Thinking, by its definition, is an innovative project design methodology, centered on the human and the concrete. But is the Design Thinking method applicable for any type of project? Schoolab deciphers this specific approach to product or service innovation. 

The story of Design Thinking 

From the 1950s, with the advent of the consumer society, the production of objects became industrial. Engineers and designers must design a single product that will be duplicated thousands of times in factories. Industrial product design agencies are therefore making good practices for designers to prototype a perfectly completed product, before launching large-scale production. 

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A movement born in Silicon Valley

Forty years later, in the 1990s, the digital wave doped by the Internet is a new moment of mass consumption. It was at this time, in the United States, that the design agency IDEO (a classic product design agency) used the design methods of industrial products and applied it to new subjects (such as services or software interfaces…). The methodology of Design Thinking was born!

What is Design Thinking? Zoom on the innovation methodology

“Design Thinking is an upstream phase of product or service design. It helps to design or clarify an idea”

Pierre de Milly, Head of New Programs at Schoolab. 

Of course, Design Thinking is not the only method of designing products or services; another alternative is to do a market study to find out what the needs of consumers are. However, in the case of new markets, customers do not know what they want from a new product. In fact, Henry Ford, founder of the automotive market, illustrates this customer uncertainty better than anyone: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked me for a faster horse.”

Thus, the use of Design Thinking is justified to accompany the development of an innovative project in a new market. This methodology allows people to design a product or service that people are not able to describe because it does not exist. On the other hand:

You can’t be creative when you read a market study

Pierre de Milly, Head of New Programs at Schoolab. 

The methodology of Design Thinking at Schoolab

“Design Thinking is a cognitive process, because we put ourselves in a real situation so that the brain is reactive,” explains Pierre de Milly, “and, we are only creative on concrete subjects. At Schoolab, we try to lay the foundations for building a project before testing it.” Schoolab offers training at Design Thinking in Paris to support entrepreneurs and large companies in innovation. 

Innovation training through Design Thinking takes place under the guidance of a multidisciplinary team, because “innovation cannot be top down, it is necessarily collective,” says Guilain de Pous, Head of Intrapreneurship at Schoolab. Schoolab’s creative methodology allows participants to be put into a real-life situation. It is divided into four phases:

  • Observation: After defining a problem, participants map the ecosystem of actors involved. They prepare interviews and meet with users and end customers. This step ends with the synthesis of feedback to get a complete view of the user experience. This helps to define the most relevant areas of work.  
  • Design: This stage of Design Thinking allows you to move from an idea to a concept. Participants choose the most appropriate creative tools for their innovation project. 
  • Prototyping: The concepts of the Design phase lead to prototypes. In our Design Thinking methodology, Schoolab accompanies you to quickly design a prototyping with as many iterations as possible, to effectively improve the prototype. 
  • Launch: This final phase of Design Thinking builds a business model and launch plan that will be presented in public.
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The results of the Design Thinking process are convincing, as shown in the following case study on Design Thinking at Schoolab.

Business case: Innovating in home delivery A customer, specialized in home delivery service, came to Schoolab after 4 years not to draw any results from multiple market studies. Their problem was to find the aspect of the home delivery service to improve. Schoolab has assembled a multidisciplinary team around this issue. The Design Thinking allowed to quickly launch a prototyte of new service, and to iterate on versions of the prototype to improve this service. Decisions were made quickly because there was no reliance on an external intermediary. And, the new delivery service, designed in the following our Design Thinking methodology, was launched only 2 months later, successfully!

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