A few months ago, during a meeting with a trendy Fintech company we had just begun working with, someone asked me how to have better success in developing new products.
I didn’t have a quick answer to show how smart and insightful I am without the clichés we’ve all read: seizing opportunities, prioritizing them based on measurable criteria, setting goals, and assembling a highly skilled team capable of focusing on customer needs while navigating the complexities of the business landscape (including stringent regulatory requirements in the financial market).
I scratched my head trying to find an answer that would captivate the room and stave off yawns, I thought of something crazy: “I may not have the definitive formula for success, but I can certainly tell you what not to do: Design Thinking.”
Beyond saying something a little provocative, I believe there is a lot of truth behind it. Before going on, I want to clarify that I do NOT consider Design Thinking to be a flawed practice. However, like any methodology, it does have certain limitations that could potentially result in adverse effects.
While prescribing Ibuprofen as an antipyretic is generally a sound idea, it can be a fatal one if the patient is on a blood thinner.
Limitations in the application of Design Thinking
Design Thinking is widely recognized for its efficacy in generating innovative solutions by placing the user at the core of the process, fostering collaboration and divergent thinking, and producing tangible prototypes. While this approach
Design Thinking is widely recognized for its efficacy in generating innovative solutions by placing the user at the core of the process, fostering collaboration and divergent thinking, and producing tangible prototypes. While this approach has its merits, it is essential to acknowledge its limitations, which, if overlooked, can lead to counterproductive outcomes.
Inadequate consideration of business objectives: While user-centric design aims to prioritize the customer experience, neglecting the business interests can result in solutions that lack commercial viability.
Some of the key aspects that are often overlooked are:
- Failing to consider business objectives: While user-centric design aims to prioritize the customer experience, neglecting the business interests can result in solutions that lack commercial viability.
- Incomplete team composition: Many teams focus solely on functional analysts, UX designers, and domain experts, inadvertently excluding professionals well-versed in business constraints and data-driven decision-making.
- Neglect of regulatory compliance: Industries such as Banking, Fintech, Insurtech, and Healthcare demand a thorough understanding of sector-specific regulations. Failure to involve compliance experts can lead to the development of impractical and non-compliant product designs.
- Insufficient emphasis on research: Design Thinking’s emphasis on creativity is commendable, yet it should not overshadow the wealth of available industry data. Neglecting research in favor of subjective opinions can compromise the effectiveness of the final solutions.
- Time constraints undermining the process: While not inherent to the methodology itself, organizations often adopt truncated “Design Thinking cycles” with unrealistic expectations for rapid prototype development. This hasty approach limits the ability to iterate, consider existing solutions, analyze competitors, and evaluate market constraints, ultimately leading to less viable products.
It is important to note that Design Thinking is not inherently flawed. However, leveraging my extensive experience in digital product development, I advocate for contextualizing this approach within the organization and incorporating supplementary practices to address these challenges, ensuring the creation of implementable and successful products.