BLOG POST ·
3
min read ·
28.1.2020

How Design Thinking can help councils

Head of Client Services

Shashank Kapoor

Shashank drives valuable transformation in organisations across the stack, from strategy to execution and innovation. He does this by enabling a product led value based mindset.

Design Thinking is probably the best thing that has happened to our industry. It is my favourite methodology and almost a default one that I go to, to find valuable solutions.

So what is Design Thinking? Design Thinking is a methodology that enables a user-centric mindset. It is an approach to problem-solving that lays the emphasis on “Who you are solving the problem for” rather than the solution itself. It’s incredibly powerful as the “who” is often a human being, who is fickle by nature and unable to describe their needs at the best of times. 

Building solutions are costly and therefore they need to have the best chance of succeeding. So how do you develop solutions in such a scenario? With Design Thinking.

A Design Thinking approach consists of 5 key phases.

  1. Empathise with “who” you are solving a problem for 
  2. Define the problem and/or need
  3. Ideate ideas to solve the problems/needs. Go wide with solutions
  4. Prototype the solutions just enough so they can be tested
  5. Test the prototypes with the end-users and validate your assumptions 

These phases are divergent and convergent by nature. To diverge is to explore the widest possible spread of perspectives with a diverse set of ideas. And to converge is to narrow the field in order to select the most promising ideas.

During the Empathise phase, you are diverging to explore which problems and needs are worth solving for, then you converge by prioritizing and defining the problem you think will provide the most value.

Then you start diverging again to explore the various solutions that could help solve the problem or need. On the last step, the most critical and the key to helping build successful solutions is Test. This is where you converge again by prototyping and testing your ideas with actual users and use that valuable feedback to finalise your solution.

Design Thinking and its toolkit are in my opinion what can help deliver success with the highest probability as it forces you to be user-centric by starting and ending at the user.


Why is it relevant to councils?

Because just like Design Thinking, a council’s entire existence is hinged on delivering value to humans. A council must address its residents problems and needs whilst they adhere to strict budgets, timelines and stakeholder requests. So how can we define, prioritise and start creating these solutions? The answer is definitely not - By Committee.

The answer is to start at the end, with your residents. Understand their immediate problems, needs and wants. Identify what is most important to them and prioritise accordingly. Then you move onto the next stages of Design Thinking and use the last 2 diverging and converging stages to find solutions and again prioritise them by testing it out with your identified user.

There is an urgent need to be user-centric and using Design Thinking approaches can ensure that they are able to deliver value and have better success with it.

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Thinking of incorporating Design Thinking methodologies?

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