Design Thinking is a framework for innovation. When people think of innovation they often think of technology or design. But in reality, innovation is transformation, metamorphosis or change that creates value, and that applies to every aspect of business in every industry: Technology, design, manufacturing, HR, the frontline, healthcare, customer service, processes and, of course, marketing.

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In fact, the catch 22 is that innovations are rarely discovered to be valuable without effective marketing and marketing won’t be effective, if the product or service doesn’t add value to the customer. That's why here at G2 Innovation we include marketing innovation as one of our key training offerings!

To be successful, marketing like every other business function, needs to add value to its end-users, and what’s increasingly evident is that marketers also need to ensure that the product or service they're selling does the same. Marketing is fast moving into the realms of integrated customer experiences, and marketing professionals need the skills to participate in the whole process, not just the market messaging at the end.

Design Thinking delivers a clear process to innovation with manageable, actionable steps to thread into all decision-making and creative choices eliminating risk and relieving marketers of over thinking and second guessing.

Three Primary Elements of Design Thinking

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User-centric focus
Human-centred design, user-centric design, design thinking – all terms circling the corporate lexicon that mean the same thing – putting the user at the centre. In order to provide what they want and need you need to know who your user is, what makes them tick and be able to empathise with them.

Rather than providing what you think your user needs or making assumptions based on what the loudest voice at the table needs or what the user has needed in the past.

Agility
Design Thinking is a fast-paced process that encourages you to form broad and brave ideas, test them quickly and cheaply and adapt accordingly.  In the Design Thinking world, we use prototyping. It’s creating a mock-up of your idea using anything affordable and easy to use - paper, LEGO or sticky notes to work through the usability.

For example, a customer experience can be prototyped using storyboards, an app tested with paper wireframe templates, or even using a taped-together box with sliding paper screens.

Collaboration
Design Thinkers believe that many minds make light work.  Different perspectives, personality types and life experiences are essential to understand the human experience, leveraging differences and working to identify what can be learned. Design Thinking is about creating a culture that encourages creativity and this can flow through the entire organisation with diversity at the table.

Collaboration in Design Thinking also extends to involving the customer in the process. Diversity at the table is important, but getting real-life feedback and insights from customers is essential.

The Design Thinking Framework

At G2 we have broken Design Thinking down into four easy-to-implement, iterative steps: Discover, Design, Develop, Deliver.

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This stage is about drilling down to understand the issue from the users perspective and defining the actual problem to be solved. Gut instinct, assumptions, hearsay evidence and ‘I think’ declarations are put to one side and we break out creative tools such as empathy mapping, customer-journey mapping, surveys and interviews, to gain a better understanding of the user experience.  

With real-time insights and analytics, marketers have access to more data than ever before. Whilst empowering it can also cause paralysis by analysis. Design Thinking helps marketers understand which data is most valuable and how to use it to effectively stimulate ideas grounded in user-insight.

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Here you analyse the data from the Discover phase, reframe the challenge based on insights and start generating ideas – ideate wide. This is where you can let your imagination run wild and explore what-if-we-could and how-might-we ideas. These ideas are then honed based on which ones best serve the insights gained from the Discover phase.

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The best ideas from the Design phase are selected for the Development phase and quick and easy prototypes are created. This helps de-risk the process allowing you to test ideas quickly, cheaply without using valuable budget or time. Testing the usability, always coming back to the user and repeating and tweaking until you have a product, process or campaign for launch.

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All four stages merge in the deliver phase in the form of soft launches and market testing. Here you fine-tune your solution, continuing to ask ‘Why’ and keeping the end-user at the centre of your attention. By now you should have a strong sense of whether your proposition meets user needs, so you can start iterating the minor details such as colours or fonts.

Design Thinkers don’t ignore data, however late it arrives.  Central to the Design Thinking process is iteration so if you uncover new knowledge about your users that can create a better offering, you  adapt your offering, regardless of whether you’ve launched or not. Just as apps and phones are regularly being updated to meet user needs, so too can every other proposition.   


So now you have a clearer understanding of Design Thinking and how it applies to marketing, what next?

Well, G2 are here to help. Take a look at our one-day Workshop, Design Thinking for Marketing

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