Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Think Design

When I first heard of the Design Thinking process I thought it was all about building fancy looking user interfaces and modern looking mobile apps. But I soon learned that it is a user-centered design process. The Design Thinking process at SAP started in 2004 when Hasso Plattner thought that Design Thinking was needed in software development and business. He agreed to fund the first D-School at Stanford University. Four years later he brought 35 Design Thinkers into SAP to collaborate with the corporate strategy group and make Design Thinking a strategic priority at SAP. After 4 years of internal use of the Design Thinking process SAP scaled Design Thinking as a way to help customers drive business outcomes by reframing their problems. 

In 2012 I had my first hands-on experience with the Design Thinking process with SAP. In this blog I would like to share the steps of the Design Thinking process. For this blog I used the theory described in the bootcamp bootleg document of the Stanford Institute of Design.


Empathy is the base of a human-centered design process, it is important to understand the people for whom you are designing. After all the problems you are trying to solve are not your own but of those users you are designing for.


To get into empathize mode you need to
Observe View users and their behavior in the context of their lives
Engage Interact and interview users
Immerse Experience what your user experiences

In order to come up with a good design you need to
Uncover the needs that people have 
Guide innovation efforts
Identify the right users to design for
Discover the emotions that guide behaviors 


In the define mode you summarize your findings from your empathy findings and define a specific and meaningful challenge. Two goals of this stage are to develop a deep understanding of your users and to come up with an actionable statement (point of view) 
The define mode is critical to the design process because it explicitly expresses the problem you are striving to address through your efforts.

A good point of view is one that
Provides focus and frames the problem
Inspires your team
Provides a reference for evaluating competing ideas
Empowers your team to make decisions independently in parallel 
Fuels brainstorms by suggesting “how might we” statements 
Captures the hearts and minds of people you meet
Saves you from the impossible task of developing concepts that are all things to all people 
Is something you revisit and reformulate as you learn by doing
Guides your innovation efforts


In the ideate mode you focus on idea generation. The goal of ideation is to explore a wide solution space – both a large quantity of ideas and diversity among those ideas. From this vast depository of ideas you can build prototypes to test with users. Try to step beyond obvious solutions in order to increase the innovation potential of your solution.


Prototyping is getting ideas and explorations out of your head and into the physical world. A prototype can be anything that takes a physical form – be it a wall of post-it notes, a role-playing activity, a space, an object, an interface, or even a storyboard. 
Prototypes are most successful when people (the design team, the user, and others) can experience and interact with them. What you learn from those interactions can help drive deeper empathy, as well as shape successful solutions.

Prototyping is used for many reasons, including
Empathy gaining Prototyping is a tool to deepen your understanding of the design space and your user, even at a pre-solution phase of your project.
Exploration Build to think. Develop multiple solution options.
Testing Create prototypes (and develop the context) to test and refine solutions with users. 
Inspiration Inspire others (teammates, clients, customers, investors) by showing your vision.



Testing is the chance to refine our solutions and make them better. The test mode is another iterative mode in which we place our low-resolution artifacts in the appropriate context of the user’s life. Prototype as if you know you’re right, but test as if you know you’re wrong.

This is why you should test
To refine our prototypes and solutions. Testing informs the next iterations of prototypes. Sometimes this means going back to the drawing board.
To learn more about our user. Testing is another opportunity to build empathy through observation and engagement—it often yields unexpected insights.
To test and refine our POV. Sometimes testing reveals that not only did we not get the solution right, but also that we have failed to frame the problem correctly.

Curious about the Design Thinking process? Have a look at Design Thinking with SAP