In this technological era today, the working of people and businesses could be divided into two ways, one where everyone is open to responding and adapting to newer technologies and fast paced trends whereas on the other hand the businesses find it very difficult to respond to the overwhelming and drastic technological changes. Connecting with people for example empathising with your clients in the businesses could be done in a better way by adopting newer techniques and working practises. Design Thinking, Agile methodology, Lean startup methods are some of the trending practices where MVPs, fast-to-market strategies are adopted to respond to the customers and consumers well ahead of the competitors.
Design Thinking is the main focus in this blog, where I will be explaining about how psychologically it is connected with humans.
Where did Design Thinking come from?
Design Thinking is a powerful approach which involves a combination of human experience which is desirability, the achievable business which is the economic viability and the possibility of the technology which is the technical feasibility (Gasparini 2015). When all three dimensions desirability, feasibility and viability are combined there is a breakthrough of innovation.
Situation from the past few years
The situation from the past three years of the Covid-19 pandemic has aggressively impacted the global economy, businesses, working habits of people and their working environment (Waizenegger et al. 2020). Digital transformation has become evident as people and businesses have hiked the use of technology. The increased digitization has enhanced the competition among the companies which has in-turn agitated the innovation process (Appio et al. 2021). The more competition, the more techniques are implemented to innovate. Design Thinking is such an innovation tool which starts from understanding a problem until the delivery of an effective solution.
Five phases of Design Thinking
The first two phases of Design Thinking ‘‘Empathise’’ and ‘‘Define’’ are termed as the ‘‘Problem’’ section, where identifying a problem in different perspectives and defining it are the core fundamentals of a requirement analysis.
To have empathy or to empathise with is the process of understanding the needs of the humans involved. In the empathise phase we ask three main questions ‘‘what’’, ‘‘how’’ and ‘‘why’’ (Mortensen 2019). We start by asking the question: what is the problem, how is it a problem and why did it happen, how people responded to it. The problem could be for any situation, for example when a company is creating a new product, a lot of market research is done around ‘‘what’’, ‘‘how’’ and ‘‘why’’ questions.
Redefining and framing the problems in a humanly understandable way is the defining phase. Analysis and Synthesis are the two steps that are done in this phase. Analysis involves breaking down the problem into smaller and easier to understand parts and analysing them in the next step. This analysis is then synthesised to form new meaningful ideas (Dam & Siang 2020).
The last three phases of the Design Thinking process. ‘‘Ideate’’, ‘‘Prototype’’ and ‘‘Testing’’ are termed as the ‘‘Solution’’ section, where finding a viable solution, prototyping the solution and testing for acceptance are the core activities.
Ideating involves a brainstorming session where several problem solving ideas are talked about and taken into account. Innovation and creativity are mainly focussed in the ideation phase. Ideas should be able to give satisfying solutions to the problem.
Prototyping involves exploring different ideas that are made into a working or a functional tool that can solve the problem, which is basically evolved from the ideas in the previous brainstorming session. Prototyping can have a high or low level of fidelity from a simple paper drawing to realistic 3D models that can actually move and be interactive.
Testing involves evaluating the prototypes to know if the solution for the problem is attained or not.
Psychological mechanisms in Design Thinking
The Design Thinking approach requires a real-time interaction among the people who participate in it. The interaction among people involves several different actions and reactions, predictions and evaluations which are closely coupled with human psychology. Based on this, the Design Thinking approach can involve two psychological mechanisms ‘‘Construal Level Theory’’ and ‘‘Embodied Cognition’’.
1. Construal Level Theory:
Construal Level Theory has four dimensions: time, space, social distance and hypotheticality. The time dimension focuses on the distance between the events in the near or distant future. The spatial dimension is the distance which physically exists between events taking place at a certain interval from each other. The social distance dimension refers to the distance between two groups or dissimilar groups of people. The hypotheticality dimension refers to the likelihood of an event occurring, from a low probability to a high probability.
2. Embodied Cognition:
An individual’s processing style towards a particular situation or event, where body movements and mannerisms are expected, is called embodied cognition. Upward and downward body movements, as well as head or eye movements are helpful in analysing if an individual is able to understand or not understand a particular scenario. For example if a head or an eye movement is downward, it means that the situation is somewhere close and can be related to, whereas an upward movement means that the scenario is abstract and the solution may not be suitable either.
It is important to note that every Design Thinking session involves people collaborating and interacting closely. This networking is really important to empathise, analyse, brainstorm, prototype and test to come up with a feasible, viable and desirable solution.