For innovation agency, GC Innovation, using a mindset and a tool set that promote a fresh approach will ultimately lead to the ideal solution.
These days, every company is looking to improve their services or products and provide their customers with the best possible experience. But how do we approach problems that arise, solve them and achieve outstanding results?
Andrew Jones, co-founder of G2 Innovation, works with all manner of companies, helping them identify and solve problems with an approach known as ‘design thinking’. Offering more than just a process, design thinking, or human-centred design, is a mindset, skill set and tool set that drives innovation, and allows organisations to dig deeper into what’s really going on for customers. “Its fundamental difference is that it focuses on falling in love with the problem and not the solution,” says Jones.
Why is it so effective?
Traditional processes have always concentrated on finding a solution, a new product or service, and presenting that to the market. Design thinking, however, delves into the actual problem and its many challenges, gaining insight into how customers are reacting, and what they’re actually thinking and feeling. “By understanding that, and using human focus skills like empathy and ethnography, you ultimately create a better solution,” says Jones.
According to Jones, design thinking is having a huge resurgence due to the fact that, driven by our industrial heritage, we still tend to approach innovation with traditional methodologies, which focus on quality, cost and delivery. Customers now have access to so much more information and we need to look further afield – and not just at our existing competitors, but also those in other industries or our ‘indirect competitors’. Plus, there are significant customer trends to consider, not driven by any one particular industry; for example, personalisation, trust or transparency. “Design thinking allows us to understand that we live in a highly integrated, complex, chaotic world where we’re getting access to and bombarded by stimuli, information and offerings all the
time,” says Jones. “What is an exemplar experience in one industry needs to transcend into all industries.”
How does it work?
G2 Innovation offers workshops on design thinking, resetting the mindset towards innovation and problem solving by providing practical tools, broken down into four phases.
This first stage involves really looking into the problems faced by your customers. “Once we start digging deeper and putting ourselves in their shoes, using empathy, then we start seeing things,” says Jones. Once the problem is identified, it can then be considered in a different light while moving into the
more creative phase. “Most organisations jump straight to creativity, believing that innovation is about new ideas,” says Jones.
Once you understand the problem and have gained greater insight, then ideas will come quickly. According to Jones, creativity is a skill set that can be taught, and involves taking that insight into your customers’ wants and needs and then looking for stimuli in other places, other trends and technologies, both here and overseas. “Take these as sparks and put the two together and there’s creativity,” says Jones. “Just like a jigsaw.”
The development stage is about prototyping very quickly to gain further insight. Known as low fidelity prototyping, this is fast, basic and cheap, in order to get it out in front of people and continue the learning process. Any new idea can be prototyped, such as a menu option or payment system, and can be
done economically in just a few hours. “The value is in the quality and type of data you get back – that’s the key,” says Jones. “You’re not worried if it doesn’t work because that’s a valuable piece of insight.” Naturally, many people experience fear of failure; however, for Jones, changing the mindset makes
all the difference. “By having a mindset of discovery, then every discovery is a win,” he says. Low fidelity prototyping also means testing multiple solutions concurrently and comparing the differences, which puts you in better position for the final delivery stage.
This is a form of rollout, where you test the service or product more widely, and continue building and adapting on a far greater scale. And the beauty is that this flows straight back to the first phase. “Some people just stop, whereas by adopting design thinking, our mindset is that we have built it, launched it and want to keep learning,” says Jones. “It goes back to the discovery of seeing problems, falling in love with them and making them better.” For Jones, this
is how you build a culture of innovation within an organisation. “You’re in a better place; you’ve got all the insight and data for solutions with a higher chance of success.”
Every organisation needs a strategy for innovation, which goes beyond brainstorming a few ideas. Design thinking provides a positive and inspiring approach to the ongoing journey of innovation, applicable for solving not only customerrelated problems, but also any issues within an organisation. “We’re all about delivering growth through innovation,” says Jones. “Not only that, but also growth on a human level, preparing people for the future world of work.”
This article was first published in State of Play, Issue 5, 2019