Meet a human need
A key characteristic of Design Thinking is to be human centred. In the end, everything we design and construct needs to meet a human need.
Take for example a hypothetical situation where you are a maintenance manager at a hotel and you’ve been asked to install kick plates on the guest room doors. The doors are being damaged and repairing them is costly and puts the room out of commission during maintenance.
Makes sense, but a human centred approach would be to talk to people who use the doors – the guests, the cleaning staff, the bellhops. Why are the doors getting damaged in the first place? Are they difficult to use? It’s easy to imagine so with people navigating through them with luggage, coffee cups, phones in hand.
With that perspective you might consider making it easier for the people who use the doors to get in and out. Perhaps a mechanism to hold the door open would help, or a less aggressive door closing mechanism.
This not only improves the experience for the people but also reduces the chance of damage to the door.
The first step of Design Thinking is empathy. Instead of empathizing with the people who pass through the doors and making it easier on them, by armouring the doors you are empathizing with the door!
Don’t empathize with the door
Empathize with the people the door is having an impact on – literally!
Don’t empathize with your boss
The assignment may come from your boss, but try to solve the problem from the users’ perspective. In this example you may have suggested the value of observing the doors and their users in action, and been scoffed at – I already told you the solution – armour the door. If that’s the reaction, then you might just do the expedient thing and follow direction.
A more enlightened manager might give you the opportunity to put the guests first. In this example the solution is actually easier and better for your guests.