Design thinking has revolutionized the way we navigate solutions to all problems. How often we use design thinking can be compared to dieting in that a diet is great, but making the diet an everyday positive lifestyle change is the best result. Being a project manager requires being a solution based design thinker. One project team solved more than one problem with the initiation on a single protocol. “The Marin County team used the design thinking process to address the late night commuter needs of low-income workers traveling. The team’s work created job opportunities for individuals living in homeless shelters, expanded late night transit services, encouraged a local community college to enhance ridesharing opportunities for students, and garnered agency support for continued partnering among team members.” (Designthinkingformobility.org).
Even small problems that seem trivial can be the next landmark idea for any brand. To recognize the massive potential of something as seemingly insignificant as a paper clip is how we become great designers and can maximize potentials on today’s projects. “Good designers have always applied design thinking to product design, whether physical or digital, because it’s focused on end-to-end product development, not just the “design phase” part.” (Theblog.adobe.com).
Innogy is a company that used design thinking to assist with urban transportation, particularly concerning e-cars. Electric cars are an unaffordable technology for most of us and not completely practical for others. One of the problems that e-cars faces is a lack of abundance of charging station networks. “The problem? The ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma of eMobility. Energy providers don’t develop the charging stations network further because there are not enough e-cars. On the other side, car manufacturers don’t produce e-cars because there are not enough charging stations.” (Thisisdesignthinking.net). In 2015, Itai Ben-Jacob of Innogy started a project referred to as eCarSharing in response to this. He used a design thinking workshop to develop viable ideas that would solve this and other problems concerning urban mobility.
The Innogy design thinking workshop consisted of a team of people from employees to businesses, researches, and the municipality. In the problem definition phase, they collaborated to first discover the scope of the issue and what the problems were, as well as who this affected. Popular questions that beg answers are the following: “What problem do we solve? Who has these problems? Why are we doing this? How are we doing this? What do we want to achieve?” (Theblog.adobe.com).
As part of design thinking, they conducted research and surveys. They broke apart the problems from large blocks to bite sized pieces to redefine the problem. It was at this stage that the team discovered the valuable untapped resources to combat the problem for e-cars and transportation in urban areas. Other stages of design thinking were not discussed in this particular project, but further use of the methodology of design thinking expanded to include the creation of a lab and workshop.
The solution was the linking of these under used resources, particularly the Innogy charging stations to an eCarSharing initiative. The result was that CO2 emissions were reduced dramatically and the business expanded to include more cars and charging stations. To satisfy all parties, the cars would be booked online and picked up at a local charging station. This proved to be a convincing selling point for employees and municipalities. From this revolutionary transition for the company by using design thinking, emerged Innogy’s Innovation Hub incorporating a sustainability mission at its core.
Designthinkingformobility.org. Retrieved from: http://www.designthinkingformobility.org/examples-from-the-field/.
Theblog.adobe.com. Retrieved from: https://theblog.adobe.com/the-evolution-of-uiux-designers-into-product-designers/.
Thisisdesignthinking.net. Retrieved from: http://thisisdesignthinking.net/2017/07/innogy_energy_ecarsharing/.