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One of the things I’ve learned in life is that insights can emerge from unconventional moments known as the 3B’s moments – Bed-Bath-Bus. And while experiencing one of them, I’ve had an insight that I believe can help you out and all those that are studying innovation process. This article is about the analogy between design thinking stages and cycle of life.

1_Understanding | First steps
Everything starts with a challenge, the famous phrase “How can we…?”

In the understanding stage, you have to take the plunge and face a theme not always very familiar. It can be related to different areas from improving a company’s sales to better quality of life of patients with certain disease. This discovery stage is similar to a newborn child who is like a blank sheet, without previous beliefs and with pure heart. To this child everything is new and although fearing the unkown his/her curiosity for things and “no things” speaks out loud. The result is the finding of a fresh world of possibilities to be explored.


2_Observation| “Because, little John!”
Because is not an answer for a Design Thinker. The observation stage is a moment to question, to do field research and to explore what is happening out there. The research in Design Thinking is important to generate deep knowledge about the challenge in study. To understand people’s real needs and how such needs relate to the ecosystem allows an empathic perspective about it. And by interviewing people we can observe scenarios and deeply feel what people do. Tell stories, sing, talk to dolls, give orders and so on are the ways how kids explore around and find out the “why” of things.



3_Point of View| Decision time
Defining the point of view is probably one the most challenging moments in the entire project. After generating a considerable amount of data and insights, it is time to re-word the challenge in the light of the new understandings and findings brought by the group research. This is the moment of organizing and navigating through the complexity that has been generated. The same happens when a teenager is choosing a profession, emotions are pumping out! This boy or girl has to decide his/her career and the path to the future so he/she starts to search for clues, to think over the journey in school and probably would do anything to sneak peak the future in order to know if the decision taken is the right one. What is the way to go? Specialists would say that questioning yourself is the best method to find it out. In design thinking we question the insights generated and refine the project route.

Tip: as a teenager in this stage of life, it is normal the team experience anxiety, fear and stress result of indecision.

4_Ideation | A world of possibilities
University: you made it! That’s the moment when ideologies/concepts arise. Stage of life when ideas come up, guts to do something new emerge, fresh concepts are internalized and the desire to act and make it is enormous. No matter in what area the will to transform is 100 miles/h. By the way lot of ideas are surrounding you making difficult to pick one. But who said only one is the better? In Design Thinking that is the moment for quantity – crazier the better – and for joining your ideas with ideas of others to form the big picture. When this brainstorm happens in a diverse group the quality of the ideas improves significantly. But after opening the mind it is time to converge. Ideas need to be analyzed and selected because we are getting closer to the finish line, time is running and decisions must be made. And after decisions made it is necessary to bring the idea to life building and testing it in the real world.

5_Prototyping| Cheap, fast and dirty
The intern spirit. The walk is initiated and the intern is trying to build something up, a career, a name, a reputation. But all of this is not accomplished overnight. It’s fundamental to create something simple but fast and show solving problem abilities, suggest new ideas, interact with coworkers, tell where to arrive. So it is the prototyping process in Design Thinking: we must create something fast, even not perfect because the purpose is to demonstrate the intention not perfection. We have to create something that people can experience our idea, before the final solution exist.



6_Test| Fail fast, learn faster

The entrepreneur! He/she has created something new and decides to undertake it. Networking is important to validate your b
usiness. Feebacks will indicate if your business idea is interesting or not to people and ecosystem. Your success relies on others’ perspective therefore you should try and fail, receive feedback, try and fail again: all that will improve constantly your idea.

Doing that the business and your experience will grow faster and become a reference since you haven’t given up. To face failure is a form of evolution not defeat. And during your failures be sure to not make them alone. “Fail faster to succeed sooner” is the spirit of testing in design thinking. In other words, try to show your idea as fastest you can in order to fail soon and be succeeded sooner.

Alert: failure is a learning process, so if you are making the same mistake again you are doing the wrong way.

7_Iteration| And now?

The evolution keep going: iteration is the moment to stop and think about life. Should I do coaching sessions? Apply for a Master degree? Should I buy a larger house or a longer vacation? How about more kinds? Divorce? Move to the beach house? It’s time to analyze feedbacks given by life to know better the next steps.

Iteration is an opportunity to refine our solutions and improve them, see new possibilities and mode of operation so we can take the products/services to the next level.

As in life, the design thinking process allows us to go back to a specific stage if necessary: ideation, research, understanding, prototyping, it doesn’t matter. Iteration will indicate which stage we should go back to or not!

Do you want to expand your knowledge about Design Thinking? Take a look on your right-from-the-oven free ebook that explains step-by- step all the stages we have mentioned above. And more: this ebook will allow you to start applying design thinking in any innovation process. Let’s design? Download it here.

Paola Bellucci

Paola is a master’s student at the Graduate School of International Peace Studies at Soka University in Tokyo. She is a visual designer, design thinker and peace innovator. Paola worked for three years at Echos Brazil and is currently Echos Australia visual designer. For the past five years, Paola has lead, facilitated and collaborated in several innovation projects and in-company workshops for various industries. In her Master’s degree, she is exploring the intersection of Design Thinking and humanitarian action for peace and human dignity. Paola believes in the power of design to create and impact social change.

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