The guided methodology that takes all the edge out of innovative creativity


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Design products and services, or digital developments, better customer service … all these processes inherent to the business process fit into the concept ‘Design Thinking’, claimed in recent times but with roots in Palo Alto, California, in 1991, by the IDEO company, and in previous work at Stanford University in the 1980s. A whole journey that, in essence, summarizes the importance of creativity, involvement and analysis of processes in collaborative work, represented in the most graphic way possible.

It is a way of conceptualizing, of representing ideas and processes, which comes to suppose paradoxes such as that of present a wall full of sticky notes, in the XXI century, to set procedures.

Images and concepts more than speeches or arguments. At the end, there is the objective: the improvement of the value proposition to the customer (the much-claimed ‘customer journey’) and the very needs of the business model, the ‘sine qua non’ of business activity.

How it stands out Rocío García Ramos, CEO & Innovation Manager and co-founder of the specialized consulting firm Dinngo: «This method improves teamwork,

intrapreneurship, creative problem solving, productivity … with it, the work of the right brain, the creative one, is coordinated with the left, the analytical one ». A path of understanding and implementation that comes to surprise those who begin their journey, as García Ramos points out: «A manager has come to tell us, at the end of a process:” I did not know that creativity could be proceeded “. It is the effect of a perfectly planned process with quite relevant results, with exponential growth during learning, reflected through graphics, drawings, notes, etc. It is very gratifying to see people frustrated by their traditional way of working discover an effective and enjoyable method and see that their solutions make sense. “

Logic and imagination

Oscar Fuente, Director and founder of IEBS Business School, for his part, highlights the basic components of this type of process: «Logic, imagination, intuition and systematic reasoning, to find practical solutions through an innovation process. It is a model of ‘agile methodologies’ that allows innovating in products based on satisfactory results ”. For this reason, as Puente points out, “you have to know and empathize with the user (what are their needs, who they are, how they behave and their buying habits), and know what are the alternatives to the product or service.”

Rocio García Ramos, CEO of the Dinngo consulting firm, in a phase of work for a startup
Rocio García Ramos, CEO of the Dinngo consulting firm, in a phase of work for a startup

This type of process is worked, from within, with classic methodologies such as ‘brainstorming’, a «brainstorming» that is represented and shared graphically to establish progress in this regard, thus enhancing creativity and work in team (and the also classic ‘trial-and-error’). “You also have to master (adds Source), the prototyping tools. A prototype must be the minimum version of our product that can deliver value to those who use it. In digital products, it is very easy to prototype apps or websites with software such as Figma or Invision, but when the products are physical, we can make low-fidelity replicas with tools such as 3D printing. And, at the end of the process, measure, measure and measure. It wouldn’t make sense for us to have worked so hard to create a product if we didn’t measure how it works. “

From Google to Zara, from a university to a car dealership … this method can be applied in any business activity. This is highlighted in Design Thinking in Spanish, the website created by Dinngo to host its training and consulting proposals in strategic design: «From the development of products or services, to the improvement of processes or the definition of business models. Its applicability is limited by our own imagination. In this environment, contributing and sharing ideas in the most graphic way possible, visual communication, makes the participants get more and better involved in the process, which must be led by someone who knows everything that the methodology can give of itself.

Focuses on both the client and the company’s own processes

This conception means that the professionals who promote it come from different types of training. This is the case of García Ramos, an architect from the University of Seville and a Master in Product Design from the Pompeu Fabra University, who has achieved that the application of ‘Design Thinking’ enhances the capabilities of his company («clients think that our team is much broader »). Multidisciplinary profiles, unified by the way of thinking and designing, in cases such as, among many others, the «graphic paths» to create an innovation department for a major insurance company, the improvement of internal communication in a large distribution company, the digitization process of a construction company, etc. Without forgetting the application in the field of training, for example, in the university

Driven by the management and the different departments of a company, ‘Design Thinking’ is usually more directly related to the figure of the product manager, the ‘product owner’. But the ideal passes through the involvement of all participants, in times of vindication of the «company culture» and «transversality», to turn challenges and problems into opportunities. An area in which methodologies such as Kaizen fit, the continuous improvement cycle to clear activities that do not add value; Scrum (teamwork, optimization of results), conceived for software development, but applicable to other areas of activity; Six Sigma (reduction of errors to a minimum), etc.

In practice

As a ‘use case’, BBVA has stood out as one of the main companies when it comes to applying ‘Design Thinking’ in Spain (He created the Design team in 2012 and currently consists of 500 people), with recognitions such as the award, in 2020, of the Special Mention in Design at the National Innovation and Design Awards of the Ministry of Science and Innovation . “BBVA has set out to lead the transformation of the financial industry and design has become a key element in the success of this strategy, both in the culture of creation and in the delivery of the best customer experience,” said David Puente, Global Head of Client Solutions, speaking at the ceremony.

“At BBVA (says Anxo López, Head of Strategy in BBVA’s global Design team) it helped us to scale the practice of design when the organization opted to incorporate this design discipline to tackle the challenges of digital transformation. It helped us to socialize with different organizational areas the way of working of the design teams that were being built in the central services and in the different countries ”. Contribution of hundreds of employees involved, from research with users, through conceptualization to prototyping and testing, with design as a fundamental tool to think and act in the company (which has the Design Ambassadors Program to provide training in this regard).

«The use (López adds) of ‘Design Thinking’ in the initial stages has allowed us to value its contribution to the bank’s strategy. Thanks to this, we have been able to evolve the brand to connect it with the digital field, we have been able to build a system that allows us to reuse both the designs and their technological developments in the different geographies, which allows us to continue working to make sense of the use of the data”.

STEP BY STEP…

“Qualitative interviews, observation, ‘brainstorming’, questions to detect areas of opportunity, prototyping, testing diary with users …”. Rocío García reviews some of the keys to a process in which dozens of different work techniques can be implemented and in which you can jump to non-consecutive phases, go backwards, etc. Variations on the same theme based on a backbone formed by phases, as highlighted by the Sevillian company: «Empathy with customers and employees to fully understand their needs, definition (sift through information), ideation (endless options, without judgments of value), prototyping (making ideas come true) and testing, as a crucial phase to identify improvements, faults to be solved … ».

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