Design Thinking

Design Thinking


Written by Brandon Yee and Cameron Dryden

 

We recently attended a panel discussion on Design Thinking.  Design Thinking is a method used to ideate, generate, and develop new products.  To its proponents, Design Thinking is more a method of general problem solving.  The basic premise of Design Thinking is a 3-pronged approach: empathy, creativity, and rationality.  Or in the words of Tim Brown, President and CEO of IDEO, it’s “matching people’s needs with what is technically feasible and viable as a business strategy.”

In truth, there is nothing new here, as the basic principles of business are the same as they have always been.  The best products have always been those that truly addressed the heart of a customer’s problem.  However, what Design Thinking does speak to is how the structure of most businesses, and modern society in general, separates these 3 traits (empathy, creativity, and rationality) into separate silos.  The understanding of the customer’s needs and wants comes from the Marketing department.  The look and feel of the product comes from the Industrial Design department.  And the functionality comes from the Engineering department.  This also happens to be the way our society is organized.  Engineers and scientists are trained separately from artists, who in turn are trained separately from business majors. 

This is why many of today’s breakthrough, revolutionary products come from small companies, where employees wear many hats and work closely together.  Larger companies can achieve similar results by bringing in outside talent.  In order to be successful, an outside solutions provider must pull all these groups together to understand the problem.  Moreover, an outside solutions provider is free from internal inertia to step back and ask if we are solving the right problem and to bring a fresh, new perspective to the problem at hand.

As a customs solutions provider, AOA Xinetics often works with its clients to pull together an interdisciplinary team of User Experience, Operations, Marketing, and R&D personnel to develop innovative solutions.  This process brings all the stakeholders together to shape and support the final product.  Moreover, it helps ensure that the final solution combines empathy for the context of the problem, creativity in the problem solution, and rationality in evaluating the potential tradeoffs.
In the end, whether that outside firm is a market research company, a design house, or an engineering firm, the other groups are forced to the table to explain their vision and underlying assumptions.  Having an outside solutions provider ask questions and provide clarity of mind helps create better products, just as the precepts of Design Thinking have set forth.
 
 

 

 

About the authors:

Brandon Yee
Brandon Yee
is the Business and Marketing Strategist for AOA Xinetics.  He has spent the past 5 yrs helping companies create strategic partnerships to create new and innovative products.


 


 

Cameron Dryden
Cameron Dryden
leads the Product Design & Maintenance business area for AOA Xinetics.  He was the 2013 NSBE’s Distinguished Engineer of the Year and his products have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Vision Systems Design, Supermarket News, Cincinnati Business Courier, Photonics Spectra, and numerous other publications.


 

About Northrop Grumman AOA Xinetics:

AOA Xinetics offers world-class engineering, manufacturing, and maintenance solutions, giving its clients a competitive advantage with electro-optical and opto-mechanical equipment.  Its two main business areas are Product Design & Maintenance and Intelligent Optics.