Now that you have gathered data from your customer interviews and observations (i.e., what they need and want, their pain points, how they feel, think, and how they behave in their natural environment), you're now ready to bring clarity and focus to the design space.
Essentially, in the Design mode, you're unpacking, analyzing, and synthesizing your findings from the Empathize mode, to create a meaningful and actionable problem statement, which is basically your point-of-view (POV). Ultimately, by formulating your POV, you'll be able to kick-start your design project.
Your POV is defined as follows - It is “the explicit expression of the problem you are striving to address.”
Your POV will steer you toward the right challenge to address, based on the insights you've garnered from your user research.
“More than simply defining the problem, your Point of View is a unique design vision that is framed by your specific users. Understanding the meaningful challenge at hand, and the user insights you can leverage, is fundamental to creating a successful solution.” – d.school, Bootcamp Bootleg
You may exploit the POV Matlib design technique to formulate your problem statement. You'll need to ensure that you integrate the following components (the user, users' needs, and surprising insights) to define your POV. You'll want to frame your statement like this:
“[USER] needs to [USER’S NEED] because [SURPRISING INSIGHT]” - Standford d.school.
For example, we synthesize the following POV from the data we've gathered about Tom, an obese person who suffers from social isolation and loneliness and uses food for comfort. He also feels judged by his social contacts and desires a sense of support from his community.
“An obese person with a poor body image needs to feel more socially accepted when engaging in physical activities and healthful eating because in their world social isolation and lack of support is more dangerous than the health risks of obesity.”
In the above example, you're driven to take action right? Note that defining your problem statement/POV is an iterative process and as such, it can be revisited and reformulated many times.
As mentioned earlier, you'll need to define an actionable and meaningful problem statement. Although this process may seem daunting, there are a number of well-known and trustworthy creative techniques, which can be leveraged to interpret your findings and observations from the Empathize Mode.
According to the Standford d.school, space saturation helps you to:
“unpack thoughts and experiences into tangible and visual pieces of information that you surround yourself with to inform and inspire the design team. You group these findings to explore what themes and patterns emerge, and strive to move toward identifying meaningful needs of people and insights that will inform your design solutions.”
By exploiting this method, you're gathering and visually presenting all your findings from the empathize phase in one space. In this process, you will saturate a wall, whiteboard, or large piece of paper with post-its and images from your user research. To synthesize your data, you'll need to organize the post-its and images into groups of similar/related patterns. You'll further be able to develop deeper insights and connect the dots, which will further help you to define your design problem and create solutions that meet your customers' needs.
You can ask how might we? questions to refine and rewrite your problem statement.
So considering your problem statement for an obese person Tom, we could ask the following questions.
These how-might-we questions will be helpful to transition you to the Ideate stage where you'll start looking for innovative solutions to help your customers.
The five whys technique is a great tool to exploit when trying to determine the root cause of a problem. Let's say your findings also reflect that Tom is struggling with overeating. We'll need to drill down into source/s for his overeating and unhealthy practices so we help him. Therefore, we could ask the following questions.
In this case, the root cause of Tom's overeating can be associated with judgment namely (self-judgment and judgment from others). Thus, our final problem statement could look like this:
Obese people need judgment-free and peer-supportive interventions to promote more healthful eating habits.
Now that you have defined a well-scoped and meaningful problem statement, you will transition to the ideate mode to develop innovative solutions to address your design challenge. To generate as many compelling ideas as possible, feel free to exploit the how-might we technique. You'll notice that as you go through the phases of design thinking, that the process is very iterative and you'll constantly revisit your problem statement to ensure you're moving on the right track.