How Design Thinking can help you ask the right questions (and get the right answers)

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Do you remember when Amazon was just the biggest bookstore in the world? After expanding its products to include, well, everything and optimizing its fulfillment and delivery process in the late 1990s, Amazon became the largest retailer in the world.

And you might not know that the longtime children’s toy, Play-Doh, began its commercial life in the 1930s as a tool for removing charcoal residue from wallpaper. Another successful pivot, I would say.

While some may say these developments were obvious, what is often overlooked, it was the detailed research, careful planning, and painstaking behind-the-scenes work that led to the pivot’s decision and implementation. In any case, these transformational changes could not be achieved without asking all the right questions from the start.

Asking the right questions requires building a diverse, highly skilled team and employing one of the most essential techniques for managing any project: design thinking.

The power of the pivot

The concept of design-thinking has been a staple of business for decades, but it has risen to prominence in recent years as a powerful technique for organizations to deliver innovative solutions that delight customers. It guides them to the truth quickly and hopefully faster than the competition.

Many successful entrepreneurs would say their most valuable resource is time. And it’s true — in today’s hyper-competitive, always-on business environment, time to market is of critical importance. The “new normal” of business is that the “never normal” should be our guide; market conditions are constantly changing. So business problems need to be solved now, and design thinking provides a proven process for solving these puzzles, both pragmatically and creatively.

If you want to apply design thinking to your strategic planning process, here are some key considerations to get you started:

Related: How Design Thinking Can Help Foster an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Does your value proposition correspond to an “essential” customer need?

Are you producing the product or service you want or have you simply offered in the past? Or the one your target customers demand? If it’s the first, you’re not on the path to lasting (or increasing) success.

Identify and understand your Most important customer. If there are several, focus on one. Find out why they’re buying, what they’re willing to pay, what value they see in the product, and when they’ll see it (also known as a “purchase trigger”). Thorough analysis and design thinking will give you the information you need to determine which leading (or lagging) indicators are driving buying decisions.

Have you assembled a diverse team with the experiences and perspectives necessary to identify all relevant challenges and opportunities?

Here you are looking for a diversity of thought and perspective – people who have applied wildly different “models” to similar problems. It’s the only way to go from answering relatively simple questions (“Are we making the right product for the customer?”) to even more critical and potentially transformative questions (“Are we really talking to the right customer? “).

As new ideas emerge, design thinking will help you identify and refine your assumptions so they can be tested and ultimately validated as such. best answer so far. In today’s never-normal environment, this is not the long-term solution; it’s a flexible flow of responses that, tied together, ensure long-term success.

Tap people on your team for the depth and breadth of their demonstrated experience in experimentation, who have already overcome obstacles or stumbling blocks. Their experience and intuition will be invaluable and will hopefully complement yours in your journey to the best solution.

Related: How a Diverse Team Brings More Creativity and Engagement to Your Business

Can you accept the ambiguity?

Today’s entrepreneurs need the resilience of yesterday’s telemarketers. You must know from the start that your life will be dominated by learn from failure”, ultimately leading to success. If you don’t see failure as an apprenticeship, you won’t be around long enough to succeed.

The days of planning schedules, whether annually or quarterly, are long gone. In today’s business environment, entrepreneurs must constantly iterate. Fortunately, design thinking can help people who take the risk of starting something from scratch to make decisions with incomplete facts and data at their disposal.

If you wait until you find the “perfect” solution, you’ll never get the answer and your business will never scale. That’s why it’s so important to work collaboratively with a diverse group of teammates to unveil a wider set of pivot options. With a diverse team, you’re better able to maximize the data you have and then examine your options from every possible angle.

Related: Design Thinking Isn’t a Process, It’s a Mindset

Are you ready to “present and rebuild, present and rebuild again?” »

It is important to have strong opinions, held freely. Strong opinions help you move forward. Holding them loosely allows you to pivot as the facts on the ground change. Design thinking is not a one-time project. Looking for the right answer for today’s environment; it is unlikely to be the correct answer forever. So you have to exercise that agility muscle over and over again; use design thinking every time by asking and answering the right questions through iteration and experimentation. Times are changing and your business must adapt. Design thinking is a surefire way to reduce the likelihood of being left behind.

Developing your design thinking skills and integrating them into your strategic planning process gives you the tools to redefine the way you work. Only by making sure you ask the right questions can you address the right challenges and find the right solutions to improve the value you deliver to your customers.

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