Design thinking is a human centered innovation approach that when applied well leads to ideas that have the power to change things.
A restaurant chain once approached us to find ideas to make the customer experience better.
They told us that it took 17 minutes for them to cook an order and they thought that customers needed to be entertained in that time. I took a team out to a local branch and we watched people wait and asked them the right questions. Turns out, no one cared that they had to wait. It was a good time to catch up with email or play games on their phones.
But instead of going back to the client with a failure we pushed a little deeper and asked customer about things that did bother them We found that the ordering system was so confusing that it distressed patrons. We saw the delay caused by the poor system add up to 5 minutes on a critical path.
So we went off and researched how other industries and fields have made it easier for clients to make choices. We designed a prototype ordering system and went back to the restaurant with various iterations until we found one that significantly reduced the time and thus frustration.
The implementation of the improved ordering system has created a much better user experience for the customer.
If we had just assumed that we knew what people needed we would never have searched for a solution.
Ethnography has taken me from dusty pavements in rural Africa to C-suite boardrooms in Fortune 500 companies. Everyone has a story to tell and the secrets to lasting change are hidden in those stories.