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What is Design Thinking?

A number of years ago, my colleague heike.vangeel, shared the following definition of Design Thinking : 

What is Design Thinking?

Creating customer value is rooted in the ability to understand customer needs and what will enable them to reach their goals, but we often forget that customers are human;  a complex mixture of logic and emotion. Successful products and services appeal to both the rational side as well as the emotional side of human intelligence. Design Thinking provides a methodology for balancing these needs. Customers want products that will support them, increase their business opportunities, profitability and enables them to be innovative in their business processes. They also want products that speak to the emotions, products that are desirable. 

Design Thinking is not a prescriptive process or a set of standards and templates. It is not meant as a replacement for the organization’s standard development tools, cross-functional processes nor project management methods. Rather, Design Thinking works inside the project management structure, offering frameworks for collaboration and innovation, seeking input and participation from a wide range of stakeholders, each of whose domain expertise is valued and applied.

Design Thinking can be introduced at the beginning of new projects or to projects that are well underway. Its fluid nature allows teams to use the approach, regardless of when they begin applying it.

The core values of Design Thinking:

  • Have an Outside-in Perspective
  • Use Empathy for Users & Stakeholders
  • Embrace diversity
  • Think holistically
  • Collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams
  • Find & iterate alternatives
  • Fail early and often

Embracing Inclusion Driving Innovation

Last year, at SAP Teched in Las Vegas, Madrid and Bangalore we created an evening event (the link is to the summaries) that introduced some of the methodology of Design Thinking to the SAP TechEd participants in the context of a demographic challenge: How to create a more inclusive development environment, one that is multi-cultural, multi-generational, multi-gendered and includes a respect for diverse perspectives. 

We particularly focused on the idea of “embracing diversity” or as we began to call it “Embracing Inclusion-Driving Innovation” (the link is to a blog by SAP Mentor thorsten.franz about the event) and we also explored some of the other values of Design Thinking such as collaborating in multi-disciplinary teams.

The practices of Design Thinking are becoming ubiquitous in our SAP Developer EventsInnojams, and in our own SAP internal make cycles.

This year at SAP TechEd 2012 we shall expand our understanding of the language of Design Thinking to focus on the theme of Empathy and its role in design, or as Heike articulated it: “practicing empathy to derive insights for novel solutions”.

The Role of Empathy in Design Thinking

This year we will host an evening event at SAP TechEd LasVegas called:

The Role of Empathy in Design Thinking

When: Wednesday, October 17th, 7:30 p.m. – midnight (doors open at 7:15 p.m.) at SAP TechEd Las Vegas

Who:   Available at no extra charge to SAP TechEd registrants only

How:    First-come, first-served basis: advance sign-up is required for reserved seating.

Since Design Thinking starts with the ability to empathize, we will not only showcase what empathy means as part of the design thinking approach, we will also expose participants to the “how” of practicing empathy in the design process.

Additional Sources:

For more about Design Thinking at SAP, reference Heike’s blog: heike.vangeel/blog/2011/09/01/spreading-design-thinking--a-practice-workshop

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