Design Thinking Bootcamp for Cross Functional Teams


Hello Everyone!

Today, I would like to talk about Design Thinking as an approach to finding innovation. Innovation happens at the center of “Desirability”, “Feasibility”, and “Viability”, to put in short for any product or any service that is truly innovative it needs three fundamental qualities which I listed before. Any Product or Service that is “Desired by consumers” that means something a consumer really NEEDS and not WANTS. Any Product or Service that can be feasible in the laws of human nature , science, and technology. Any Product or Service that has a tendency to disrupt the market and do business. Thus, an amalgamation of these three gives birth to “Innovation”.

There comes a time , when some Products or Services truly disrupt the whole marketplace. They are truly innovative as they change the next generations to come by their transformative thinking and value creation.

For example, Apple iPods were truly an innovation, as it was desired by consumers, who wanted to listen and store music at their fingertips. It was Feasible due to the technology and computing knowledge that were accelerating in that decade. It was viable, as you can see Apple boosted their market capital and till date Apple has sold over 450 Million iPods.

Another example with recent years would be ChatGPT. It came, it saw, it conquered the market with its truly innovative algorithm which gives out answers to our queries in a human readable format. We have surely come a long way since the Stone Age, no one would have imagined a machine can be as smart as humans and so much better at memorizing things which can automate so many parts of our lives. ChatGPT is innovative as it is desirable by a large audience, from children to adults and to seniors. It is viable due to the advancements and computing power we collectively have today. It is viable, as it is doing business and no one has ever since had a better growth story than ChatGPT in recent years.

This leads us all to believe, how can we make innovative or ground breaking products? How can we step up the game and reach new heights? Believe me, everyone is the race to do that. I think the answer is very simple, at times we forget to find the problem and directly jump to answers. If we slow down, observe things around us, discover problems then our path is 90% solved to innovation, but it is not easy to find problems. Identifying problems can be a challenge and it can trap you by making you delusional that you have found the problem but it might be something else. Thus, I would share with you today something that can guide you not to fall into the trap and help you create truly groundbreaking and innovative products which can create value. The answer is Design Thinking.

Before we understand Design Thinking , I would like to emphasize on what exactly is DESIGN.

We always consider Design as something on how it looks visually. We associate appealing, visually beautiful, abstract and other words with it, but in true sense Design is something how it works. Design is a Process, it is not limited to how something looks or feels like, it is something how it works like. Design is the first part for any product or service. It is a process that takes inspiration from reality, defines it in an abstract plane and implements it in the future plane.

How can you unlock the true potential of cross-functional teams at your organization?

There are several ways to achieve the above question, the average consumer in this age of information has become much more smarter and much more aware. The old tactics of making things people want does not work, we have to make things that people need. The two words NEEDS and WANTS are very similar but are very different, one is optional and one is necessity. To make things people need, we need to be a bit closer to the consumer and that is where Design Thinking starts its magic. The first step of Design Thinking is Empathy. We need to listen to the voices of our consumers and observe what are the points troubling them, rather than making an hypothesis that our products are actually needed by them without doing market research.

The older marketing and selling tactics used an inside-out approach, where the idea originates within closed board rooms and then people try to sell it. The flow used to look like this:

What are our core competencies? -> What is our current business model? -> What else could we offer? -> What other channels could we use? -> What customers would we sell to?

We need to revamp this approach and make it more outside-in approach where we listen to the consumer and then ask as an organization or an entity, what can we offer to the society. The flow can be like this:

What customers do we want? What are their priorities? -> What ecosystem exists to meet those priorities? -> What could we offer? -> What business design would create profits? -> What do we need to execute that design?

This is in line with the famous three golden circles that a lot of successful companies use.

All the successful companies have started with asking the WHY rather than HOW and WHAT. It is because it is very important to figure out why you exist for and that sets the vision, how sets the process and what sets the product. If you are able to sell WHY to the consumer you are doing the right thing.

Design Thinking BootCamp

Before we start the bootcamp and how to successfully execute a Design Thinking Workshop in your team, there is a prerequisite. You will need people from different fields and sectors which can come together, as different ideologies and thoughts will give rise to new opportunities and ideas can come from anywhere 🙂

Phase 0:

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” -Tim Brown

Things we need to keep in mind are below before starting the workshop are as below:

  • Design Thinking is a perspective with focus on people. It starts with the most important elements that make us human. “Empathy”.
  • We understand each other’s thoughts, ideologies and mutually respect them and drive forward for the betterment of each other. That is called empathy.
  • Diverge and converge
  • Traditionally the team comes together and makes choices to add a particular feature or is this product right based on the direction of a leader.
  • Using Design thinking, there is a little change, first everybody brainstorms on new ideas. Everyone creates new options and then they lead to choices. Causing resistance and justifying leads to value and more streamlined thoughts.
  • Iterate. Iterate. Iterate
  • The process needs to be refined till the end , and thus we need to iterate the process over and over again till we have a streamlined solution.

Phase 1:

This is the Phase where we empathize with the consumer. The better we empathize with people, the easier we can create value for them and success for organizations. Empathy is the most important aspect of this process. Without empathy we cannot derive insights of how other people think and feel. Empathy is central to the human-centered approach of Design Thinking.

We take inspiration from the real and learn about the paint points of the consumer. These can be achieved with methodologies such as persona creation, creating customer journey maps, and 5 Whys

Things to keep in mind in this Phase are as follows:

  • Engage, Observe, Watch, and Listen
  • Do not only create persona for the average user, we need to ask questions and pain points to the extreme user, who is the one closely connected to the product, rather than asking to a C-Suite executive or manager

The outcomes of this Phase should be as follows:

  • Personas are created with different demographics
  • We have listened about the pain points of personas, observed their struggle with current process
  • We have discovered the root level cause that the consumer is struggling with

Phase 2:

This is the Phase where we dig and synthesize insights from the learnings in the previous phase and create an abstract/hypothesis and a problem statement. This phase gives more structure to our arguments and keeps us concentrated on the root problem rather than being distracted with some hallucinations.

Whatever observation and findings we have collected in the previous phase, we synthesize them in this phase and create new insights and opportunities. We will create a detailed Journey Map in this phase where we can understand the emotions of a consumer in the whole process and find confidence in our process where the consumer is happy and hope to improve the process where the consumer is having problems with.

Things to keep in mind in this Phase are as follows:

  • Find patterns and meaning which will help us in direction making and creating a solid problem statement
  • Describe what processes were performed for a specific customer.
  • Immerse oneself in the process of revealing minimal detail and gaining insight from someone’s point of view.
  • Use a journey map to find opportunities in the existing world.
  • Find the strongest visualization to convey a clear message in the group, it can be text, image, visual flow chart or anything.
  • Define a message that sets the design problem in a new light.

The outcomes of this Phase should be as follows:

  • Derive Insights from the journey map. See which all emotions make the customer anxious or sad and brainstorm to find new opportunities out of them.
  • Once we find out the opportunities, prioritize all the opportunities in order and create a grand theme for your idea.

Phase 3:

This is the phase where our Ideation begins and we start brainstorming from the abstract and create ideas that can tackle the problem defined in the phase before and can find a solution. This is the most Phase where all team members diverge and find solutions based on their perspective and ideology for the problem statement defined.

Things to keep in mind in this Phase are as follows:

  • Generate multiple ideas. If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas.
  • Set a goal within the team, that each member has to generate at least 10 ideas
  • Defer Judgment. There are no bad ideas at this point. There is plenty of time to judge later.
  • Encourage crazy ideas. It’s the wild ideas that often provide the breakthroughs. It is always easy to bring ideas down to earth later.
  • Build on the ideas of others. Add value to the existing ideas of others, rather than ignoring them.
  • One conversation at a time. In a team, let all the ideas be heard. Adopting this will lead to harmony and focused thinking.
  • Communicate the core and essence of your idea, without a long speech. Keep it short, simple, and concise.

The outcomes of this Phase should be as follows:

  • The team would have captured multiple ideas.
  • Discuss all the ideas in the team, the presenter will present their idea to the team and the thought process behind it.
  • Convergence of voting and selecting some of the best ideas to try by consensus.

Phase 4:

This is the phase where the implementation begins. We will start implementing and prototyping our ideas derived from the previous phase and put our prototypes in the real world for the consumers to test.

Things to keep in mind in this Phase are as follows:

  • Aim for 1$ prototype. Start by creating flow charts or diagrams. Focus on MVP next.
  • For every prototype made, ask feedback from the consumer. Adapt to the changes suggested and iterate the process of feedback.
  • Embrace Failure.
  • Be open to changes.
  • Fail early fail often.
  • Set a deadline for MVP and Prototype.

The outcomes of this Phase should be as follows:

  • Cost of error gradually lowers down and thus cost per failure can be mitigated.
  • The prototype might look really ugly in the beginning and there will be a lot of iterations, but the process will reach a streamlined product/service eventually 

Repeat all the Phases till a streamlined ground breaking product is created.

In a nutshell

Hope this blog helps you carry out your own Design Thinking Workshop in your teams and can accelerate development of better Products and Services for the society.

Image reference are taken from IDEO Design Thinking 2016 Workshop