How Design Thinking Complements Crowdsourced Innovation

Design Thinking Complements Crowdsourced InnovationIn my double role as an innovation architect at IdeaScale and a consultant for innovation management, I rely on a variety of methods to set my clients up for success. Combining methods is one of the ways I make sure they make the most out of their innovation efforts. In this post, I’d like to talk about how design thinking complements crowdsourced innovation.

Design thinking is a well-known, highly-effective and enjoyable method that encourages people to open their minds and take a different approach to problem solving. Not only does it bring together individuals that have different views on a problem, but it also allows for communication at eye level. I don’t think I need to point out the obvious parallels to crowdsourcing here, do I? The two methods are a natural fit.

Design thinking is a six-phase process that puts people in focus. The first three phases are all about gaining a thorough understanding of the problem and the target customer. The other three phases are dedicated to working on solutions. Design Thinking methods can be used at any point in a process of open innovation. Let me walk you through how this might look.

Define: Asking the right questions is crucial to finding valuable ideas. In design thinking, the first phase is dedicated to defining a suitable problem statement to set the project up for success. IdeaScale can be used here to find issues people would like to work on. Run a campaign and ask employees or customers for input.

Research: This phase is about conducting personal interviews and external research (studies etc). Its goal is to dive into your customers’ world and find out what they do, think and feel. Paired with online discussions on the platform, this gives you valuable insights into the needs of your target customers.

Synthesis: Having gathered a large amount of information, you now need to identify the most important insights. On the platform, focus on ideas that address exactly those points and move them to the next phase. Or use the information you’ve gathered to reframe your problem statement.

NOTE: What makes design thinking so universally applicable is the fact that you are never tied to the process. It makes sense to follow it from A to Z to begin with, but you’re free to jump back or ahead any time.

Ideation: Even though you have been collecting ideas all along, this is the moment to stir up the crowd again. You now have a much clearer understanding of the problem and the people you want to solve it for. Communicate exactly what you want the crowd to help you with and look forward to fantastic ideas!

Prototyping: This is where ideas become reality. There are different ways to use IdeaScale at this point in the process. One way is to use the Build Team stage and have people volunteer to build prototypes. Then come together in a workshop and provide materials for the teams to build them.

Testing: Finally, you have some prototypes! Now it’s time to test them. Do it live or on the platform – involve the crowd an ask for feedback. If you want to you can even start a whole new round of idea collection to develop your prototype and enrich it with new functions.

These are just a few ideas – there are numerous ways in which you can combine the methods. Open up and give people the chance to contribute – what you will learn and achieve is more valuable than you could ever expect.

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