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How Is Agile Design Thinking Helping In Business Innovation?

19th Feb, 2024
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     How Is Agile Design Thinking Helping In Business Innovation?

    Design thinking is no longer a practice monopolized by designers. It has pushed itself beyond the “design” confines and found its place in multiple avenues. The new-age connotation of design thinking is significantly different from the traditional one. Today, it is seen as a problem-solving methodology in businesses. It is essentially a solution-oriented approach and entails five steps-

    1) Empathize- Understand your audience, customers and target market
    2) Define- Specify your requirements, understandings, and problems
    3) Ideate- Create new ideas to form innovative solutions
    4) Prototype- Solutions are created by looking at a prototype
    5) Test- Test the solutions once they are finished

    These phases should not be executed in series. They should be implemented organically to get the target solution at the end regardless of the sequence.  

    Design thinking is assumed as the most effective way to understand a customer’s requirements. It involves thinking- ‘why they do’, ‘what they do’, ‘how they do’ and finding out some novel ideas, which may turn out as a solution the customers will love.

    Why Is The Agile World Talking About Design Thinking?
    How design thinking met Agile is a matter of interest and the topic of today’s discussion. While the two appear mutually exclusive and uncorrelated, an unbelievable intersection has recently come to the fore.

    Design Thinking and Agile development process
                                                                                             Fig. Design Thinking and Agile development process

    Before proceeding further it is crucial to know about the term ‘Innovation’. Generally, we hear this term everywhere and we know that innovation is all about providing ideas out of the box, that will lead to achieving business targets. Let us move on to the actual definition of it.

    Innovation is defined as a commencement of something new and unique. Actually, it is an act of innovating that leads to significant discoveries, processes, and devices.

                                                                                                                Creativity + Work = Innovation

    Therefore, be an innovator to harness your creative ability. Here are some points that will help you know the importance of Innovation.

    • Innovation in businesses is important as it provides not only an edge to penetrate the market at high speed but also better ways to develop a market to generate bigger opportunities, especially in abroad countries.
    • It also results in developing new things if an innovator is given an enterprising and confident attitude for taking risks and accomplishing a task.
    • Introducing an innovative culture to the businesses will help the latter grow easily, in spite of the creative process being unique. Usually, tried-and-tested methods are reliable, but trying out new things may be a worthwhile experiment.

    Is Design Thinking A New Agile?
    How does the design thinking concept complete Agile? Design thinking practices consider Agile principles by giving the customer the highest priority. It complements Agile in following ways-

    • Customer interactions are done before getting an idea of the target solution. There are some tactics that can be used to identify your customers, such as carrying out interaction with the group, single person, or experts from the target market. This will help you better empathize and solve a problem. It is recommended, in this context, to build a product for your market, than searching a market for the product.
    • During interaction, add customer engagement, observation and some useful techniques which will help you to immerse yourself in the client’s requirements. Ensure what problems the clients are facing and what you can do to solve them.
    • Once you discover the problem and call it out, you are almost halfway through. Next, you sit down and ideate. This is nothing but envisioning the problem with its pros and cons and finding ways to solve it. The best way to do it is to think of a “prototype”, which essentially is your tentative solution. The basic idea in design thinking is to outline the prototype as a high-level concept, in a form closest to the real solution. This is where some of the popular tools like Axure and Invision come into the picture. They seamlessly create a high-quality model of the final product, without having to run through the complete software development life cycle.
    • It is important to provide a solution as per the customer’s requirements because for the customer there exists only one criterion: Does the solution solve their query? If it is, they will pay for it. If it is not, they will search for the better fit elsewhere. Therefore, developing a product which fits the market is important.
    • Another key technique that Design Thinking can promote is to have a multitasking, robust team that can view a query from various perspectives. This is similar to the Agile principles, in which autonomous and self-empowered Agile teams develop a solution themselves.

    How can the right environment be created for an effective combination?

    You may feel awkward while combining Design Thinking with Agile for the first time. Design thinking team, like Agile, needs to accomplish the task with the help of the entire team. There is enough room for collaboration of Design Thinking practices and Agile principles. An ideal environment needed for Design Thinking includes developers, UI designers, and testers in the team. To ensure success in combining Agile with Design thinking, one should keep the following things in mind:

    combining Design Thinking with Agile for the first time

    • The combination of Design thinking and Agile will be successful when the team involves people with different skill-sets, backgrounds, perspectives and creative ideas that they can share with each other. Also, one can have the freedom to define ‘how’ while understanding the story behind the scene.
    • Each team should be allowed to take risks and should be given exposure to the process of the other teams’ work. The team discussions will bring up new and innovative methods of addressing thereby resolving the problem which may arise.
    • The team discussion will help you to micromanage your team. It is recommended as the best way to let the team manage system works more effectively.

    Last Thoughts-

    Scrum is derived from the Agile framework. Agile works in an iterative manner to deliver valued solutions in fixed time to the customers. Scrum plays an important role while transferring Agile framework to the Design Thinking process. In this regard also, Agile and Scrum are forming the bedrock of the organizations. Consequently, the demand for Scrum in successfully implementing Agile Design Thinking is rising as it is an effective, smart and perfect way to gain more productivity.  The world domination of Agile due to the incorporation Design Thinking is clearly happening and you may have archived various courses as well. But despite all your struggles, there is that glass-ceiling that is limiting your potential as a Scrum Master. This can mean only two things-

    # You are yet to practise the design thinking principles religiously
    # You are just a certification away from the best Agile practices

    The need of the hour is to introspect and find the shortfalls in your Agile practices. The final step, and invariably the way forward, is to opt for CSM certification courses.

    See for yourself what it means to make Agile work for you in the Design Thinking way!


    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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