Design Thinking according to Bethlem Boronat: Creativity, Methodology and Marketing
06 de March de 2020
06 de March de 2020
What is Design Thinking and why has there been such a boom in the methodology? Find out in this interview with the Director of EAE’s Master in Design Thinking, Bethlem Boronat.
Design Thinking, the design tool that is conquering the world
Dynamism and adaptability are key features of the modern world, and Design Thinking is a clear demonstration of this fact. Originating from the world of design, this contemporary methodology was developed in the mid-20th Century by authors such as L. Bruce Archer and John E. Arnold. However, it is only in recent years that its full potential has been rediscovered and applied to a range of different disciplines, including marketing and entrepreneurship.
Would you like to find out more about Design Thinking and its impact on the financial sector? In the following interview, Bethlem Boronat, the Director of EAE’s Master in Design Thinking and Customer Experience, gives an overview of everything we need to know about this exciting topic.
“Design Thinking is a methodology that enables us to develop products and services from a perspective focused on the end customer/user”.
Director of the Master in Design Thinking and researcher at EAE
How would you define Design Thinking and what does it involve?
It is a methodology that enables us to develop products and services from a perspective focused on the end customer/user. It involves the approach that designers take when they tackle a new project. Rather than only thinking of creating new products, right from the start, the designers focus on the unsatisfied needs of the end customer or user. Taking this as their starting point, they can ensure that whatever they design will be useful for the consumer
Design Thinking is deployed in six steps that begin with a process of empathizing with the end user, before defining the problem well. To make the process more effective, the next stage is to devise solutions, prototype the most viable ones and test their suitability. Throughout this process, data is generated that can be analysed and integrated to apply the resulting improvements. Lastly, Design Thinking also involves planning the implementation of the product, thereby ensuring that this step is also consumer-oriented.
“Design Thinking is an ordered, modular, adaptative and participative process that stimulates creativity and, therefore, contributes towards innovation”.
Why has there been such a boom and what impact is it having on the business sector?
In my opinion, there are two main reasons. Firstly, marketing is increasingly focused in customer-centred processes and personalization, and Design Thinking is an extremely useful approach to bear this in mind right from the start of the design of the product or service. Secondly, it is an ordered, modular, adaptative and participative process that stimulates creativity and, therefore, contributes towards innovation, which enables all kinds of participants to be integrated within the project at one point of the process or another. Moreover, it is reasonably fast and very effective.
How is Design Thinking related to innovation?
The methodology applies certain key methods for developing innovations. Firstly, at the empathy and problem definition stage, a lot of information is gathered about the project environment and users. This stimulates creativity because generating ideas is a matter of connecting knowledge to a large extent.
These ideas are not left there because the methodology incorporates fundamental features through which the idea passes to achieve innovation: testing and implementation. No matter how original an idea is, it won’t be an innovation unless it is commercially successful. Therefore, ensuring the usefulness and usability of the product and establishing good strategies for reaching the public with it are essential steps that form part of the Design Thinking approach.
“We must remember that Design Thinking cannot not only applied to developing technology, but rather to any project that requires improving and growing, even in relation to Human Resources”.
What role does it play in the digital transformation that the world is undergoing?
In my opinion, digital transformation helps to generate the right atmosphere within companies to enable methodologies such as Design Thinking to be integrated in the work processes. In turn, Design Thinking primarily contributes by enabling practically the entire company to get involved, if so desired, to integrate new technologies simply, helping to manage the changes entailed in digital transformation.
We must remember that Design Thinking cannot not only applied to developing technology, but rather to any project that requires improving and growing, even in relation to more structural issues, such as Human Resources and workflows.
What about customer experience? What impact does Design Thinking have on marketing and the customer experience?
Though it may seem obvious, when it comes to the customer experience, the customer is at the centre, and a methodology like Design Thinking, which focuses on the customer right from the very beginning, is an ideal tool.
Design Thinking structures and facilitates the development of the project and, thanks to its modular nature, it adapts very well to all the needs of each specific customer, which is extremely beneficial. Moreover, not only can it be applied to the customer experience, but also to the employee experience or ‘taking care’ or the feelings and emotions of the participants of any initiative.
“At the end of the day, learning Design Thinking not only involves acquiring knowledge but also developing soft skills such as creativity, time management, empathy and storytelling, which are key factors in personal and professional growth”.
What does it take to be an expert in Design Thinking? What skills would you highlight?
It is essential to have an open mindset, adaptability and a real thirst for learning all the time, because working with Design Thinking, thanks to the direct contact with the customer, is tremendously rewarding. You learn constantly and that is precisely what makes it so challenging and stimulating.
Another important characteristic is the ability to open up and fully develop the creativity that we all have, and then use it effectively at each point of the process. You don’t necessarily have to come from a certain sector but, most importantly, you need the right attitude, the ability to embrace the challenge of changing the way you work, and courage to overcome the difficulties that often arise when we have to accompany others as they change their work dynamics. Because, at the end of the day, learning Design Thinking not only involves acquiring knowledge but also developing soft skills such as creativity, time management, empathy and storytelling, which are key factors in personal and professional growth.
What tools and techniques are indispensable for effectively applying Design Thinking to the customer experiences?
It is not so much a matter of specific tools or techniques, because Design Thinking is not a magic formula that always works in the same way. Each project requires its own particular analysis and a certain set of techniques and tools that vary from project to project. This is the modular and adaptable aspect that I mentioned earlier.
The only essential factor is to apply the process correctly, without worrying about mistakes. In fact, just the opposite, mistakes are seen as a welcome opportunity to improve the project even further. You have to be able to reach the end of the methodology with a consistent set of conclusions that generate a useful product or service and give us the right pointers to develop the optimal strategy for creating unique customer experiences.
“Although there is a certain tendency to associate it with industrial design professionals, Design Thinking is a useful tool for everything related to project development, whether it be products, services or even work strategies”.
What are the most important professional profiles with Design Thinking focusing on marketing? What profiles are in the highest demand?
As I mentioned earlier, it is not necessary to come from a specific background to be able to enter the world of Design Thinking. More than knowledge, you need the right attitude and curiosity. Although there is a certain tendency to associate it with professionals in the field of industrial or software design, marketing or communication, Design Thinking is a useful tool for everything related to project development, whether it be products, services or even work strategies.
Nowadays, an ever-increasing number of companies are aware of the need to have experts in creative and human centred work methodologies, and Design Thinking is probably the most powerful of all of them. These is also a growing need in the market for people with the power to convert a product or service into a unique experience for different types of profiles.
In a world in which technology enables us to reach levels of personalization that were unthinkable just a few years ago, creating specific products and services for consumers’ needs and transforming the relationship between the product/service and the customer into a stimulating and unique moment will increasingly become more essential features of marketing strategies but also in terms of business models in general.
“At EAE Business School, we strive to teach Design Thinking in such a way that students are not only capable of applying step by step, but also using, building and rebuilding it depending on each customer’s needs”
What does the future hold for Design Thinking? In which direction do you think it is heading?
As a tool, Design Thinking has a bright future, primarily because it is not a static tool but rather it adapts to each circumstance. Although it is considered by many to be a linear process, at EAE Business School, we strive to teach Design Thinking in such a way that students are not only capable of applying it step by step, but also using, building and rebuilding it depending on each customer’s needs, almost like a made-to-measure tool for each project.
This adaptability and modular capacity gives it the flexibility required to grow alongside the emerging needs of companies and new business models. The best thing is that, as it is an extremely comprehensive methodology, with a very well-defined process, by learning it, we lay the groundwork for mastering any other creative, agile innovation methodology. In my opinion, it will eventually form part of the basic work system of many companies. Those that already have a good command of the methodology, as well as having a head start, will be able to design ad hoc methodologies for each project, thereby stimulating the efficacy and efficiency of their efforts and the success of the projects.
Are you interested in this topic? Would you like to become an expert in implementing Design Thinking? If so, check out the Master in Design Thinking and Customer Experience, on which you will gain the theory and practice required to break into this fascinating new world. What are you waiting for? Find out more here!