Disrupt The Status Quo With Design Thinking

Industry Trends

June 30, 2014

We live in a complex world that is full of constraints and continuously shifting needs.

There are many things in our organizations and marketplace that we can’t control. When it comes to solving problems, our previously generated explanation doesn’t always apply. We can’t draw rules of thumb. We are required to think in new ways all the time.

Design thinking framework solves this challenge.
Design thinking is a creative way of solving ill-defined problems with empathy framework and cyclic experimental approach.

Design thinking framework converts constraints into creativity and it makes us look at problems with new eyes. Design thinking provides futuristic innovation as an answer to wicked problems. Design thinking is very different from the traditional linear/analytical approaches of solving problems.

Linear/Analytical Thinking is suitable for

  • There are a few human beings involved in the problem or the solution
  • We understand the problem very clearly and we are sure that we are solving the right problem
  • The past is a good predictor for future
  • There are several clear sources of similar data

Design Thinking is suitable for

  • The problem is human-centered and a deep understanding of the users/customers is involved
  • The problem is not clearly understood. We need to explore and get an agreement
  • There are many unknowns (large and small) and past data/theories are unlikely to help us
  • There is very little relevant existing data



Tim Brown, the CEO of the Palo Alto-based design and innovation firm IDEO, sited a great example of innovation with design thinking in his interview with Forbes magazine.

“It’s fine to do a focus group and ask people what they want, but generally they haven’t solved their problems, so they can’t tell you. Value comes from looking first-hand at what people do, understanding what they need and are trying to accomplish and using that knowledge as inspiration for developing new ideas. For example, look at Bank of America’s Keep the Change Program. People couldn’t tell us that they wanted a debit card that would “keep the change.” It didn’t occur to them. But we saw how many people were rounding up to the next dollar when they paid for things–yet doing so didn’t create value for them. Combining that habit with a debit card created a completely automatic, invisible way to save, which is something people really want to do now. As a result, Bank of America has gotten 10 million new customers and $1.8 billion in savings for them. And it is such good business for the bank that it is sharing the wealth, matching the first $400 in each new savings account.”

Design thinking framework has become the new way of envisioning technology.

  • Design thinking focuses on “people” and their needs and not on a specific technology or template based solutions.
  • It involves journey mapping, storytelling, cognitive observations , interviews/data collection, brainstorming, prototyping etc.
  • It combines business knowledge, technology and people’s behavior to create a new experience.

Here is a high level framework of design thinking.

Creative space

Setup a creative work environment where people freely share ideas and thoughts without being influenced by political-dynamics, passing on judgement and can stay focused on topic.


Personas are fictional characters created to represent user types. They are useful in considering the goals, desires and limitations of the users to help guide design decisions. Personas put a personal human face on otherwise abstract data about customers and help us to feel the empathy for the user/customer.
Your persona description might include:

  • Name and picture
  • demographics such as age, gender, education, culture, background
  • Goals, needs and task

Story Board
Using the identified personas, we create a journey map / story board of the entire process. Each step of the process is recorded as a point of view in the form of one sentence that creates an image in our mind. Journey mapping uses an empathy framework to walk through the emotional journey of the problem and generates a collective intuition for the entire problem.

Once a journey map/story board is created, we can start generating ideas. Ideation phase involves a divergent approach with multi-functional groups of users. At this stage, all ideas are welcomed with focus on the quantity of ideas. Don’t be shy of including the wildest ideas.

Cyclic Prototyping- Fail early, fail often and fail cheaply
Co-creation of solutions with quick prototyping is the scrappiest way of converging the ideas into low-fidelity mock-ups. Design thinking prototyping involves building quick & inexpensive mock-ups in just a few hours (can be built using card board, charts, wire frames, programming code etc.) that help us test our key assumptions.

Test and Validate
Testing enables design thinkers to gather early feedback from users, stakeholders and experts. It also makes it easy to refine the strengths and weaknesses of prototypes. By collecting feedback, adjusting key assumptions and iterative testing; a valid prototype is created that becomes the foundation of the solution development.

Sodales’s team is formally certified in Design Thinking methodology. The core of Sodales Solutions Inc. services is to solve our clients’ critical business problems. However, before solving a problem , we need to find what the real problem is—as it is quite easy and common to confuse a problem with its symptoms.

And we do this by using “Design Thinking” framework.

Curious to learn more? Email me at sana.salam@sodalessolutions.com and get started.

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