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Just sharing my experience around Design Thinking (DT).

Approx. 2 yrs back, when I started this DT exercise I was clueless about it.

Now there is considerable information from my end, which I feel can be shared with the community at a large.


What people say about Design Thinking: Empathy is the foundation of human-centric design –  Gartner

Before we get into Design Thinking, we need to understand Why many of the UX projects fail

Deep Diving into the first idea

Often the team moves along with the very first promising idea to save time. Mostly the problem on the surface looks easy to solve and end up in wasting more time.


To resist changes to prototypes

This is a common problem when a designer is emotionally attached to their creativity and thereby restricting or defending their design. This will lead to non-acceptance of some candid feedback from end users.


Skipping empathy phase

Sometimes the client may say they know their “needs” and they know what their “audience” needs, and ask you to jump straight into the problem-solving. Effect of this will lead to skipping the empathy phase.


Separate facts from assumptions

If the solution builds based on the opinions and assumptions, it is a clear indication that you are working in the wrong direction.



When various users are going to use your product/service you may not get the same kind of feedback from different users. For Example, people with disabilities will have a completely different need, which a normal user might not even think through. When we create a group of users to confirm our prototype, we need to have people from different age groups and genders as part of our Design Thinking exercise. You may need to include even ethnicity if you are building a B2C Applications.


Some of the other  key factors are

  • Design in a process-centric way without engineering


  • Forceful Adoption of the solution


  • Lack of internal canvassing & marketing


  • Implementing DT in the traditional waterfall model


  • An organization not open to Change Management

What is Design Thinking

The design is not all about looks. People are often confused or restricted to the appearance and with the illusion of visual appeal. Unfortunately, that is not all. Design thinking means to empathize the end users, to understand the business pain points, to determine the scope of the challenge and then build an user-centric design.


Design Thinking was adopted for business purposes by David M. Kelley, who founded the design consultancy IDEO in 1991. In mid '90s many companies started to adopt DT, one such example is Apple inc.

We can notice In the above figure, that there is a huge paradigm shift in the use of devices and the age group of people using the same over a period of time. Initially, whenever an application is built it is targeted either for Desktop or Laptop, but now you cannot set aside Mobile, in fact, lots of applications are getting built which can run on SmartWatch, Smart Glass, etc. This change is not going to stop and therefore we need a sustainable framework in our organization which will ensure that application that is going to be built is future proof and have better usability and adoption. Design thinking is one such methodology that aids in building such an application that is easy to access and adopt.

Just Take Apple as an example.-they are into business for a long, right from 1976. Have released various products, but failed to gain huge customer adoption or popularity. But once they adopted to Design Thinking in 1997, they started to turn the table with a new set of products iPod,iPhone,iPad, etc. If you want to build a successful Product / Application then the suggestion is to adopt best practices of Design Thinking.

Design Thing is highly successful because it deals with Human Emotions, Sentiments, Data quality, Design, and productivity.  Below is a quick glance on how Design Thinking differs from the Traditional Approach.

How to Execute Design Thinking

  • DT is an customer facing engagement, where UX lead has to do a Face 2 Face discussion with the customer and conduct a workshop with End-users & Business. This Face-to-Face meeting will help us to understand customer current pain points in detail.

  • The standard timeframe to conduct DT is approximately 2-3 weeks. This depends on the use case and the availability of key stakeholders.

  • Following will be the outcome of our exercise.

    • Storyboard of the project

    • Definition  each persona and their touchpoints

    • End-user “Point of View” of the solution

    • UX journey along with feelings

    • The Prototype of the solution

    • Feedback from different stakeholders

In the Sprint world, some of these documents can be in the form of  EPIC, Sprint, Business condition document, etc.

Key players

  • Innovation Core team

  • Process Owner

  • End Users

  • Designers and Developers

  • Project Managers

  • Support Team

  • Marketing Team (optional)

  • Legal Team (optional)

Note:  It is recommended that a Design Thinking project is executed on Agile methodology due to its flexibility.


Tools to Execute Design Thinking for SAP Business Applications


For the organization that needs to be more collaborative and creative, their workspaces must be re-designed differently. SAP MOSAIC is one such tool that helps in achieving the re-design. It enables teams to prototype a future creative space based on their way of working. Team Behaviour has a very significant influence on the creation of an idea bank that gets directly or indirectly impacted by Work environment/location.

SAP Scenes

Storyboards are a powerful way to communicate user requirements and to validate ideas before they get into further iterations. SAP Scenes is exclusively used during the nascent stages of the design process to visualize design solutions and to create a common understanding of the problem to be addressed.

SAP Build

SAP Build applies design thinking best practices to design our application. Without writing any code and with a few clicks. Various features like real-time feedback, low code strategy, code extraction, best practices, etc, is already available. Build service helps to create interactive prototypes compared to the standard way of creating Low Fidelity wireframes.


SAP Web-IDE is a Web-based development environment for SAP Fiori, SAPUI5, and full-stack business apps. With SAP Web IDE Full-Stack, we can easily develop, test, build, deploy, and extend role-based, consumer-grade apps for business users. Developers can perform building new SAP Fiori apps or create new SaaS solutions or extend S/4HANA cloud services, or develop hybrid mobile applications or build IoT apps for SAP Leonardo, etc.


SAP UEM (Usage tracker)

The success of the application directly depends on its adoption.

SAP UEM (User Experience Management) tool like KNOA can easily measure the application adoption, utilization, performance, of the application that is deployed into UAT users. It will help to identify training opportunities, change management opportunities, application usability or performance issues, etc.

A Typical DT methodology


As usual, open for candid feedbacks and comments.


-Arun Santhanam
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