The Design Thinking Process for Insight Professionals [Infographic]

We have been trying to integrate design thinking into market research strategies for some time now, with varied success. Design thinking is a thoroughly customer-centric process that aims to find a human-focussed solution to every issue that pops up in all organisations.

The strategy behind design thinking processes have been around for a long time in other fields such as user experience and behavioural science research, and have been working well to find effective solutions that serve the needs of all those involved.

There have been many debates surrounding the inclusion of design thinking into market research, most of them for the approach with a resounding agreement that it would boost the accuracy and actionability of the insights generated for customer-centric projects and business strategies.

With the rise of design- and customer-centric organisations (think Apple, Nike, etc.), we need to be more on the ball when it comes to generating design-focussed insights from tailored market research strategies that are sure to be much more useful and actionable to the aforementioned organisations.

While we’re making great strides in the area, maybe a refresher on how to implement design thinking in market research is needed. The infographic below provides a brilliant starting point for this process:

Iterative, Human-Centred Research Strategies

The main application of design thinking in market research is to help us empathise with the research participants and focus on conducting research at their level so we get the best insights possible for the effort both researchers and participants put in. We talk a lot about getting the right insights to the right people at the right time, but if we reverse this and put the participants in the spotlight, getting the right insights depends on our ability to understand the right participants, supply them with the right tasks to engage them, and communicate with them in the right way to encourage their effort in the first place.

Defining and identifying the participants needs and issues as well as the client’s business problems allows us to take the information we already have from the empathising stage and use both sets of data to create a truly effective research methodology that is set to keep both researchers and participants on track and in the right direction to help insight professionals come up with the right human-centric solutions to the business problems that require the need for research.

Then it’s onto the ideate, prototype, and testing stages — all of the 5 design thinking stages are completely iterative, meaning that if insights in the latter stages contradicts those that come before it and highlight the fact that this research might not be the best for the task, then we are completely able to redo and refine the research methodology even if it’s already set in motion to make sure the research we conduct is working at it’s best and to our purpose.

We have broached the topic of design thinking before in the FlexMR Insight Blog; our Technology Development Manager, Annette, tackled the topic of design thinking as a ‘silver bullet’ for consumer research. Both Annette’s article and my own conclude that design thinking is a great 5-step iterative and agile strategy that can be translated particularly well into market research.

While most insight professionals might already apply design thinking elements into their own strategies, it’s not quite as common as the process deserves. For anyone wanting to educate themselves further on the topic, there are plenty of resources available online that can help us better integrate design thinking into our research strategies and to learn how to apply it when the situation calls for it.

This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.

FlexMR is The Insights Empowerment Company. We help brands to act decisively, stay close to customers and embed agile insight at the heart of every decision.