Asked & listened to with Ruben Wegmann


Ruben Wegmann

Colorful post it walls and wild ideas - is that design thinking? Certainly not, says Ruben Wegmann, Director Digital Services & Business Strategy at WIRZ. He has long since internalized the "build, test, measure, learn" approach.

11. December 2023

1000 colorful posts Its on a wall - is that design thinking?

Design thinking is much more than a wall full of colorful ideas. It is a comprehensive concept that encompasses tools, processes and a future-oriented mindset. Depending on the doctrine, it leads from an initial idea to a practical solution in five or six phases. The starting point is always understanding people and their needs. The next step is to identify the core of a problem and formulate it as a precise question. Then come the ideas - find, develop, iterate, improve. This is followed by the visualization of the developed solution, sketches and prototypes. And finally, testing the prototypes together with people. What else can we differentiate, refine and improve? On a meta-level that goes beyond the concrete methods and processes, design thinking is a mindset for solving complex problems in an innovative way by integrating human-centered, creative and experimental approaches.

It feels like the trend towards design thinking only emerged a few years ago - is that so?

Design thinking has existed as a concept as we understand it today for around 40 years. The term was coined by IDEO, the think tank founded by the inventor of the computer mouse, among others. The initiators aimed to apply effective design processes to open questions. In recent years, design thinking has contributed to the democratization of idea generation and has developed into an approach that breaks down hierarchies in companies and involves every employee in the creative process.

Which new methods in the field of design thinking will gain in importance in the coming years?

Design thinking is one of many approaches and can be combined with other methods such as systems thinking, depending on the issue at hand. This method assumes that everything is interconnected and that the world is too complex to reduce a problem to a single question. Let's take the customer journey, which is individual and therefore multi-layered, with many touchpoints, many channels and different sequences. The better we succeed in understanding this complexity as a whole, the more targeted our thinking and actions will be. I find systems thinking as an expanding discipline very exciting.

Which project or situation do you remember particularly well where design thinking really made a difference?

Design thinking is particularly effective in digital product development. It combines human needs with technological feasibility and economic viability and also enables non-designers to use creative tools to overcome challenges. Take app development, for example, where sketched prototypes are tested quickly and efficiently with customers in the field. This results in a much better end product - and the company also benefits from learning to better understand its customers' thinking through research.

What role will technologies such as AI play in the future of design thinking?

AI will play a key role in the future of design thinking, for example in the empathy phase. Of course, you could carry out desk research and collect your own data at this point, but it would be comparatively expensive. In terms of time and money. Today, innovative AI technologies such as InferenceCloud enable more precise and faster social listening, which accelerates the development of solutions.

How is Design Thinking used at WIRZ?

At WIRZ, design thinking is a co-creative and iterative process - together with clients - that runs through the phases of understanding, defining, developing ideas, creating prototypes and testing. For me personally, design thinking is more than just a methodology: it is a way of life based on the principles of 'build, test, measure, learn'. With success.

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