The bet on innovation, however, does not lie upon changes that may be implemented in the companies’ organization charts exclusively. In fact, it involves wider work teams, if not the whole human capital of an organization. Hence, one of the emerging skills most valued in candidates taking part in a talent attraction process is precisely design thinking, a philosophy and working method susceptible of being put into practice globally within a company.
The term design thinking was coined in the world of design during the 1960s, but it was made popular two decades after by Rolf Faste, professor at the Stanford University. He defined it as “a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues, with the intent of an improved future result”. In summary, in order to innovate, action is more valuable than thought.
Following Faste’s path, another Stanford professor, Tim Brown, has become one of the greatest advocates of design thinking over the last decade, convinced that beyond an aesthetic or ergonomic improvement in consumer goods, design thinking serves to solve big issues through the creation of products and services.
In design thinking all the process is person-centric. “Human need is the starting point”, says Brown. But this innovation-oriented mentality follows some other main principles or premises: profound observation and analysis of society; an integrative thinking process which bears in mind that any opinion is valuable; cross-curricular work among multidisciplinary teams with diverse points of view; convey each vision of the problem in a significant, striking way; be aware of the method utilized in each stage of the process; and, from a pure entrepreneurial perspective, the need to eventually balance customer wishes with technical feasibility and financial profitability.
There are several methods to apply design thinking. Nevertheless, the one developed by Rolf Faste is still as useful and valuable as the first day. The Stanford professor divided the process into five steps:
- Empathize: Being able to see the world through the eyes of the customer.
- Define: In this phase the problem to be solved must be identified.
- Ideate: During brainstorming process every innovative idea is acceptable, even if it seems crazy at the beginning.
- Prototype: After choosing the most innovative idea and assessing its compatibility with technical feasibility and financial profitability, the product or service must be implemented into the market.
- Test: During this last step, appreciations made by the final customer must be taken into account, so that necessary improvements are made.