Think like a product designer

Understand - Observe - Solve

The Design Thinking Playbook creates an understanding of the needs of the user.

Design thin­king is con­side­red the new, crea­ti­ve trend method for inno­va­ti­on deve­lo­p­ment.
As indus­tri­al desi­gners, we some­ti­mes smi­le about the hype that has grown around the approach, becau­se the methods and ways of thin­king are by no means new­ly inven­ted, but are an inte­gral part of our dai­ly work.

Our defined goal: to provide you, the customer, with the best possible product.

In order to create helpful and meaningful solutions for the user, it is essential to take the user's perspective. Because in order to be able to understand comprehensively, you have to experience it yourself, that means trying it out, touching it, failing it and ultimately doing it better. The aim is primarily to create solutions that satisfy the needs of users, but at the same time are sensible, economical and technically feasible.

The more inten­si­ve­ly we deal with the defi­ni­ti­on of the pro­blem, the bet­ter solu­ti­ons we can deliver.

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What exactly are the core ideas of design thinking? 

The basic idea of design thin­king is to design inno­va­tions and crea­ti­ve solu­ti­ons for com­plex problems. 

The­re are no limits to the ran­ge of appli­ca­ti­ons of design thin­king. It can be appli­ed to pro­ducts and ser­vices as well as to the deve­lo­p­ment of con­cepts for busi­ness or social issues.

Design thin­king is just as much a coll­ec­tion of methods as it is a way of thin­king and can be defi­ned dif­fer­ent­ly depen­ding on the appli­ca­ti­on. Various tech­ni­ques and tools can be used for a sys­te­ma­tic approach.
Open­ness to results, allo­wing mista­kes, the cou­ra­ge to fail and the wil­ling­ness to learn from fail­ure form the neces­sa­ry inner attitude.

The clas­sic design thin­king pro­cess is divi­ded into two main pha­ses: ana­ly­sis and syn­the­sis.
The two main pha­ses can be divi­ded into six fur­ther sections:

    • Under­stand
    • Watch
    • Defi­ne point of view
    • find ide­as
    • deve­lop prototype
    • Test­ing
Wirtschaftsfaktor Projekter Büro für Industriedesign Duisburg Design Thinking Playbook
Source: Patrick Link, Micha­el Lewrick, Lar­ry Lei­fer - The Design Thin­king Play­book, 2018

It is important to empha­si­ze that this is by no means a straight-line pro­cess and that repe­ti­ti­on loops within the pha­ses are an inte­gral part.
By asking ques­ti­ons and lis­tening, a basic under­stan­ding is crea­ted. The order and eva­lua­ti­on of the obser­va­tions help to defi­ne the pro­blem as pre­cis­e­ly as pos­si­ble. The most important fin­dings form the start­ing point for pos­si­ble solu­ti­ons.
Based on this, initi­al ide­as and solu­ti­ons are deve­lo­ped. The­se are put through their paces with the help of pro­to­ty­pes in order to detect and revi­se weak­ne­s­ses as ear­ly as pos­si­ble in the deve­lo­p­ment pro­cess. "FAIL OFTEN AND EARLY" is one of the gui­ding prin­ci­ples here.
The pha­ses are repea­ted until solu­ti­ons that are satis­fac­to­ry for the moment are found.

The most important moti­va­ti­on of design thin­king is always to gain a tho­rough under­stan­ding of the needs and desi­res of the user. In this way, one's own per­spec­ti­ve chan­ges and the focus is shar­pe­ned. As a result, the pro­ba­bi­li­ty of deve­lo­ping sus­tainable solu­ti­ons is much grea­ter than with solu­ti­ons that are made palata­ble to the user through exten­si­ve mar­ke­ting. It is a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to distance yours­elf from the usu­al sys­tems and to dare to lea­ve the usu­al paths in order to gene­ra­te new solutions.

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Industrial design and design thinking

Design thin­king methods are lived prac­ti­ce for us indus­tri­al desi­gners.
Num­e­rous aspects come tog­e­ther in pro­duct deve­lo­p­ment. The­se rela­te to user and cus­to­mer needs as well as production-related requi­re­ments, which must also be con­side­red in an eco­no­mic context.

In order to keep track of such com­plex over­all con­texts, stra­te­gic as well as sys­te­ma­tic approa­ches are abso­lut­e­ly neces­sa­ry.
Design is often wron­gly equa­ted with final sty­ling. We, on the other hand, see pro­duct design as a holi­stic task. With the help of crea­ti­ve tech­ni­ques, we deve­lop inno­va­ti­ve con­cepts and sol­ve pro­blems in a tar­ge­ted man­ner. The ear­lier in the pro­cess the enti­re deve­lo­p­ment team gets tog­e­ther with us indus­tri­al desi­gners, the bet­ter solu­ti­ons are crea­ted. In inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry teams, the­re is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to look at issues from dif­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves and thus pro­du­ce holi­stic answers.

The clas­sic design pro­cess lar­ge­ly cor­re­sponds to the pro­cess of design thin­king, in the case of new deve­lo­p­ments and the opti­miza­ti­on of exis­ting pro­ducts alike.

We distin­gu­ish:

  • rese­arch
  • con­cep­ti­on
  • design
  • draf­ting
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Think out­side the box with us!
Wirtschaftsfaktor Projekter Büro für Industriedesign Duisburg Tellerrand
This is how we keep track.

The start­ing point of every design pro­ject is the rese­arch and ana­ly­sis pha­se. Tog­e­ther with our cli­ent, the most important goals and requi­re­ments are defi­ned in the brie­fing. Rese­arch pro­vi­des exten­si­ve know­ledge about mar­kets, cur­rent trends, users and tar­get groups. Ana­ly­zes give us insights into struc­tures, needs, pro­ces­ses, ergo­no­mics, useful­ness and over­ar­ching rela­ti­onships such as com­pa­ny struc­tu­re and goals.
On this basis, basic design solu­ti­ons are deve­lo­ped in the form of indi­vi­du­al and par­ti­al con­cepts.
Taking into account the know­ledge gai­ned in the first pha­se, the con­cepts can be con­so­li­da­ted and eva­lua­ted. The eva­lua­ti­on is based on the fol­lo­wing criteria:

  • lay­out
  • func­tion
  • manu­fac­tu­ring engineering
  • eco­no­mics

In con­stant con­sul­ta­ti­on with the cli­ent, one or more con­cepts are pur­sued and work­ed out. This is usual­ly done using dra­wings, 3D CAD con­s­truc­tion, mock-ups, test­a­ble pro­to­ty­pes and in con­stant con­sul­ta­ti­on with cus­to­mers and the deve­lo­p­ment team. Through repea­ted test­ing and revi­si­on, the con­cept beco­mes a draft and the draft beco­mes the final pro­duct.
The last step is the trans­fer of the data to the manu­fac­tu­rer for tool making and pro­duc­tion. For us, post-production sup­port is a mat­ter of course.

Based on our many years of expe­ri­ence as indus­tri­al desi­gners, we app­re­cia­te the methods of design thin­king. Com­pa­ra­ble to a tool case, the­re is the right tool for every chall­enge. The big advan­ta­ge is that pro­ce­du­res can always be adapt­ed to cur­rent needs and circumstances.

"The Design Thin­king Play­book" by Micha­el Lewrick, Patrick Link and Lar­ry Lei­fer has estab­lished its­elf as recom­men­ded rea­ding for our part­ners and ser­ves as a regu­lar source of inspi­ra­ti­on for us.
It is an excel­lent refe­rence work and a com­pe­tent advi­sor, espe­ci­al­ly for the con­cep­ti­on and imple­men­ta­ti­on of our poten­ti­al and inno­va­ti­on work­shops. It offers an exten­si­ve coll­ec­tion of dif­fe­rent methods and tech­ni­ques.
The book is divi­ded into three parts, each pro­vi­ding an over­view of tra­di­tio­nal, cur­rent and future suc­cess fac­tors of design thin­king. Basic know­ledge for a bet­ter under­stan­ding is hel­pful, as the aut­hors moti­va­te in many places to adapt and fur­ther deve­lop the methods, sug­ges­ti­ons and tips for yours­elf, the pro­ject or the com­pa­ny. This makes it clear how design thin­king is to be unders­tood and, abo­ve all, how it should be applied.

Design Thinking is primarily an inner attitude and less a strict method template that has to be adhered to dogmatically and that could be imposed on any problem as a solution.

Optimize products with specialist workshops and design thinking

This beco­mes clear again and again in our work­shops. It is par­ti­cu­lar­ly important the­re to react ade­qua­te­ly to the cur­rent situa­ti­on. This moti­va­tes the par­ti­ci­pan­ts and helps to deve­lop qua­li­ta­ti­ve results.
The­re are also num­e­rous tips for desig­ning crea­ti­ve spaces and set­ting up teams.
In one of our last work­shops, for exam­p­le, we brought tog­e­ther spe­cia­lists from dif­fe­rent disci­pli­nes to find poten­ti­al for pro­duct opti­miza­ti­on. The team con­sis­ted of engi­neers, archi­tects and indus­tri­al desi­gners. We work­ed tog­e­ther and in small groups to crea­te the grea­test pos­si­ble out­put. In this way, the ques­ti­on could be exami­ned both in the over­all con­text and in detail.
Impro­ve­ments in struc­tu­re, mecha­nics, mate­ri­al and hand­ling as well as com­ple­te­ly new con­cep­tu­al approa­ches for the func­tion of the pro­duct could be deve­lo­ped in a short time. That was a gre­at start for all fur­ther work phases.

The added value of the coll­ec­tion of methods, prin­ci­ples and ways of thin­king of design thin­king lies in the open-ended and solution-oriented approach to pro­blems. Inte­gra­ted from the begin­ning, tar­get defi­ni­ti­ons can be work­ed out effi­ci­ent­ly and thus con­tri­bu­te to the sup­port of a stra­te­gic ali­gnment of your pro­jects. The hig­her the cor­po­ra­te levels at which the­se prin­ci­ples are accept­ed, the more effec­ti­ve their appli­ca­ti­on beco­mes.
We bear respon­si­bi­li­ty for the results of our work, becau­se as real pro­ducts they have an impact on our imme­dia­te envi­ron­ment. Suc­ces­ses only beco­me visi­ble in the future. An inten­si­ve and sus­tained dis­cus­sion in advan­ce crea­tes secu­ri­ty in the decision-making pro­cess.
Design thin­king sup­ports us as desi­gners in rea­li­zing our visi­on of good indus­tri­al design. We attach gre­at importance to crea­ting the best pos­si­ble pro­ducts for you as a cus­to­mer, which are useful and give you pleasure.

Book recommendation on the subject

Lewrick, Link, Lei­fer
The Design Thin­king Playbook

Das Design Thinking Playbook Projekter Büro für Industriedesign Duisburg

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