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Empathetic Design Thinking Cheat Sheet by

Empathetic design thinking
design     thinking     empathetic


Don't be wedded to any particular idea but be committed to the goal of solving customer pain. Only then can you better understand your customers.

First coined by British Professor of Design Research L. Bruce Archer at the Royal College of Art in 1965, Design Thinking has emerged as one of the best ways to creatively solve problems. While it's more about the cognitive process, this is how I use Design Thinking:

1. Question

The problem with conven­tional wisdom is it's conven­tional. We need to challenge this by questi­oning everyt­hing. Start with a blank slate approach and ask a big, provoc­ative question focused on effect­iveness rather than on a small, increm­ental question about effici­ency.

2. Discover

Discovery is perhaps the most difficult thing to do well. It requires sitting down with current or prospe­ctive customers to discover their pain. This can be done in lots of ways—doing their jobs, creating empathy through asking questions, actively listening and setting aside your bias. This isn't about selling them on your ideas; this is about standing in the customer's pain and identi­fying what they actually need versus what they want.

3. Ideate

This is the fun part! Get your team together and brains­torm. If you had no constr­ain­ts/$1 billio­n/a­pplied magic, how would you solve your customers' pain? Remove your mental shackles.

4. Prototype

This is one of the most critical steps. Build something quickly that can potent­ially solve the pain. The key is fast. This doesn't need to be a fully baked product. It doesn't even need to be a product. It could be a sketch, a visual­iza­tion, a wire frame, a mock, a scenar­io—­wha­tever allows someone to experience the solution.

Empathetic Design Thinking

5. Learn

Now go back to the customer and get feedback. What worked? What didn't work? It's OK that you didn't get it all right. Process this data. Feedback is a gift.

6. Iterate

With your new learnings, get the team back together and iterat­e—q­uickly. When you view everything through a custom­er-­centric lens, you can move rapidly to cancel out the noise and focus as much as possible on the signals that add value. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 until you have a minimally viable product (MVP) that a customer feels will solve a pain point and thus derive true value. Only then will there be a value exchange: The customer will value your product enough to pay you for it.

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