Digital transformation can be challenging. While today’s agile software development practices, technology, and tools let us develop applications quickly, tying together human, digital, and physical interactions across time and touchpoints to create intuitive experiences that meet user and organizational needs is still difficult.
That’s where design thinking comes in. While not a new concept, design thinking has emerged as a major component of IT modernization and digital transformation, and it can be used to amplify agile practices, technology, and tools. In fact, CIO magazine recently called design thinking nothing less than the secret of digital success.
Along with lean startup and lean-agile, design thinking is our playbook to:
- Focus efforts on the right solution.
- Remove undesirable experiences at any project stage.
- Minimize work that doesn’t add value.
- Facilitate shared understanding and stakeholder buy-in.
- Optimize quality, design, usability, and accessibility.
Anybody who produces products, systems, or services can use design thinking to better understand what users and organizations need and improve employee and customer satisfaction. SAIC leverages user experience (UX) research and design thinking at every stage of a project to create user-centric solutions and inspire innovation. When design thinking is combined with agile development practices and iterative prototyping, development teams gain significantly more insight into ill-defined customer challenges and more opportunities to devise innovative solutions.
Design thinking is often represented as five stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. But it is important to note that the process is non-linear and iterative. Design thinking can be initiated at any stage of a project, in parallel, and as often as necessary to gain as deep an understanding of user needs as possible.
Empathizing activities help us set aside our biases and identify attitudinal and behavioral patterns. We use methods like surveys, interviews, and empirical observation to identify motivations and patterns, understand challenges, and confirm or dismiss assumptions.
Defining activities leverage the insights gained from the empathize stage to analyze challenges and prioritize them for resolution. Persona development, journey mapping, and task analysis are several of the many methodologies we use to identify challenges in a human-centered manner.
Design thinking combined with agile development and iterative prototyping can provide significant insight into customer challenges.