“Yum!” Did you ever freeze Yakult when you were a child? You probably had
difficulty whenever you tried to scoop the Yakult sherbet with a spoon
through the narrow bottleneck. Last April, a new Yakult product was released that
aroused a hot reaction from the public. The product has a conspicuous difference
from the former model, as the package switched the top and the bottom. As the
product has a larger bottleneck than before, it is easier to scoop the Yakult sherbet.
This fascinating idea may have been discovered by user-centered design, paying
attention to the consumers. This is the key concept of “design thinking,” which
enables individuals and businesses to solve problems of society. The Sungkyun Times
(SKT) expects Kingos to have a chance to think about how to solve daily problems
wisely by giving an overview of “design thinking.”
Design thinking is a methodology that has the purpose of deeply
understanding customers and creating “on demand” outcomes. Simply
put, it is the thinking process of “designers.” According to IDEO,
a design company, thinking like a designer can transform the way
organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategies, and
this approach brings together what is desirable from a human point
of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.
This enables businesses to consider what everyone else has overlooked
through conventional problem-solving practices.
Why “Design” Thinking?
The term “design” within design thinking often arouses some
curiosity, as the process of design thinking does not seem to have
high relations with the original connotation of the term. Design
in terms of design thinking, however, can be understood on a
larger scale as the overall meaning of designing. The developers of
the product or service do not only take into account the aesthetic
aspect of the product, but also consider the function or usability
of the product or service.
Importance of Design Thinking
The importance of design thinking is found in society’s current
demands. It can be understood as a methodology that optimizes
to the contemporary need. The current business field is full of
“aesthetic” or “fancy” outfits, which means that there is no more
novelty in making a “pretty” product. Design thinking, however,
provides a differentiated service strategy by taking a deeper
perspective. For example, in the past, a lightbulb developer could
have only focused on how to make a better lightbulb, thinking
of the size or color. With design thinking, the process of thinking
should consider the ripple effects of the new product, including
the reactions of consumers and the electronics market.
Process of Design Thinking
Design thinking, as described by design company pxd, is a
problem-solving method that observes the consumers first,
empathizes with the situation, and then finds diverse solutions
to the problems of consumers. The following five steps show the
representative process of design thinking proposed by IDEO,
and the process varies according to different institutions. During
the process, design thinkers frequently use memos to post their
ideas on a board and share them freely. Until the prototype step,
criticism toward ideas should be avoided to encourage broader
ideation that results in innovative and creative outcomes.
|IDEO’s Five-Step Process of Design Thinking|
As design thinking concentrates on consumers, there is a stage
that defines who is using the product or the service. In the
business field, the virtual consumer called “Persona” exists as one of the tools to represent consumers. In general, a persona has a
name, a purpose for using the product, a photograph of oneself,
and even a short plot that describes the persona and his or her
relation to the product. Although there are many ways to narrow
down a certain persona, the process starts with interviews and
communication with consumers. After getting information about
each persona’s behaviors, design thinkers process and analyze
their data, and consumers’ characteristics are visualized by charts
or diagrams. With the persona showing a certain pattern for using
the product, the design thinking process is facilitated.
Application of Design Thinking
Design thinking can be applied to many fields, and there are many
successful examples in the business field. The following examples
show how diverse design thinking can be applied to our society.
IDEO’s Oral-B Toothbrush for Children
This example is famous for its emphasis on the target segment.
The problem of previous toothbrushes for children stemmed from
the stereotype that children are smaller than adults, so they need
smaller toothbrushes. After observing children, however, IDEO
discovered that children need better grips on the toothbrush,
regardless of their physical size. As children do not have balanced
muscles in their hands yet, they should keep the same power
when they use the toothbrush. The observation of children by
IDEO established the famous toothbrush, “GRIPPER.” This
product was the first to put soft and smooth materials on the
Embrace’s Blanket for Premature Babies
In developing countries, because of hypothermia, over 20 million
newborn infants lose their lives every year. As the situation
is severe, many organizations and companies had focused on
increasing the supply of incubators, which are heavily used in
developed countries. Embrace, a visionary company, however,
visited developing countries to observe the real situation. As a
result, they gained insights that it was not a matter of needing
more incubators, but rather maintaining the body temperature of
a baby. Accordingly, Embrace developed a blanket that sustains a
baby’s body temperature with less energy and money. According
to the company website, this blanket has helped more than
144,000 babies overcome hypothermia.
|Examples of Design Thinking: IDEO’s GRIPPER (left) and Embrace’s Blanket (right) / ideo.com|
Education of Design Thinking
Global attention to design thinking can be seen as a social trend
that is spreading among universities and educational institutions.
Since 2005, Stanford University operated D-School in an effort
to educate students on design thinking. In fact, the founders of
Embrace were students who learned design thinking at Stanford
University. In an interview, they stated that in the general process of
establishing the company, they applied design thinking. Korea also
shows high interest in education of the methodology. For instance,
the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning started the “D.
Forum” business with major universities this year. The business
intends to educate university students about design thinking and
give chances to use the method in actual business processes.
Design Thinking at SKKU
At SKKU, aligning with society’s attention to design thinking,
there are related courses to learn about design thinking. The
SKT had an interview with Professor Il Kwan Park, who is
teaching the course named “Design Thinking.”
Q1 What is the reason for teaching design thinking to university
In the past, society was developed by a single elite who could think of
new ideas, but society has changed. Now, it is important to improve
problem-solving strategies of many people, and we should cooperate
with each other. Current society demands us to do open collaborations,
not dogmatic reformation, and design thinking seems to help fulfill this.
Q2 What are the daily approaches to develop design thinking?
This is a difficult question. There is no such thing as a perfect answer, but
I would like to encourage everyone to keep trying to think like a designer.
First, emphasize others. Trying to look from others’ perspective helps you
empathize with their circumstances. Second, adopt integrated thinking.
Have diverse interests in society, and try to interconnect them when dealing
with problem-solving situations. Lastly, collaborate with others. Teamwork
is important to develop design thinking. Furthermore, build up good relations
based on trust with those who may be an important asset one day.
Design thinking can make the world a better place by having real conversations with society. Yong Jin Jeong, the Vice President
of Shinsegae, said that one of the important business philosophies is design thinking. As the world is giving the spotlight to design
thinking, the SKT suggests Kingos try and apply this methodology in their daily lives.
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