What I learned studying design thinking at IDEO
I wanted to refine my skills as a Product designer by getting an understanding of the design thinking process and solving problems from a human-centered approach. As my career continues to grow and I conduct more user research studies I want to be sure that I am able to synthesis my research efforts in a useful way. I wanted to learn how to synthesize research into key insights that can not only validate assumptions but inform design decisions and create new innovative ideas.
Last year I had the opportunity to take a design thinking course at IDEO. For anyone who hasn’t heard of IDEO. They are a design firm that is focused on Human-centered Design made famous for designing the first manufacturable mouse for apple computers. Since then they’ve been advancing the practice of human-centered design by developing courses, writing books and giving TED talks . I think this quote from ideo.com does a good job of explaining who they are and what their principles are:
“As early leaders of human-centered design, we keep people at the center of our work. It’s a key tenet of design thinking, and even as our methods evolve in response to new, complex challenges, we’re always designing solutions for people first. We’re building to learn, and learning as we build, through inspiration, ideation, and implementation”.
image: In 1980, Steve Jobs asked IDEO to develop a mouse for a radical new computer, the Lisa.
As part of IDEOs foundations in design thinking offerings Insights for Innovations is aimed at teaching five important skills for creating insights.
“Listen with your eyes” and discover what people really care about.
- Learn From Extremes
Stretch your thinking beyond assumptions and get to bolder issues.
Conduct interviews to get deeper, more honest responses.
- Immersive Empathy
Learn what it means to “walk in someone else’s shoes”.
- Sharing Insights
Craft compelling insights that will inspire innovation
The empathy phase in the design process is essential to learning about the people who will be using your products. Discovering what’s important to them, the challenges they face, and how they interact with the world helps you craft solutions that are specific to their unique needs. The Insights for innovations course teaches designers what to look for when researching the people who will use your products. The course teaches key techniques for writing interview scripts that will produce honest and insightful content from the people who interact with your product The ability to identify and share key findings from interviews or ethnographic research helps drive the design process forward not only for the designer but for the wider product team. Sharing your findings in a way that allows your team to truly empathize with your users helps everyone align on the user’s needs so that you build the right solutions.
What I learned during my time with IDEO finds a place in my work every day as a product designer. From the time I start a new project and need to do discovery work and build context, to when it’s time to synthesize that research and share key findings with the team. Insights to Innovations has sharpened my instincts as a designer and researcher so that I can feel confident that I’m designing solutions that solve real user’s needs, problems, and frustrations.