Design Thinking in Digital Product Management

Understanding the Design Thinking process

Design Thinking is a human-centered process for creative problem solving. It supposes focusing on the user, understanding their needs and coming up with solutions to meet those needs. Nowadays, there are a lot of organizations using Design Thinking for creating products, but it can also be applicable in other fields like education, personal development and social context. One of the main goals of this process is avoiding solving problems basing on past experiences, patterns or data, and instead using innovation and creativity. 

Digital Product Managers are responsible for developing products that satisfy customers and Design Thinking helps them to see things from a different perspective. It is a common mistake that Digital Product Managers start focusing on the product itself and they decide features before even knowing what the user really wants and needs. Thanks to the Design Thinking approach, Digital Product Managers are able to change work dynamics and approach things differently. 

When it comes to transforming an organization into a design-centric company, it requires time and effort. It does not consist just in using Design Thinking but changing the culture and broad commitment from everybody in the organization. The Digital Product Manager brings Design Thinking into the organization, acting as a mediator between consumers and team members. They oversee the entire life cycle of a product, and their success does not depend on having a deep expertise in a field, but rather a combination of soft skills and hard skills.  

The five stages of the Design Thinking process

  • Empathize: refers to the understanding of the user’s needs, in order to see the problem tried to solve from an empathetic perspective, putting humans in the center. It is crucial to understand what the users are and most importantly, what they need. 
  • Define the problem that will be solved based on the findings of the first stage of the process. Once the needs are identified, it is time for the formulation of the problem statement. All the accumulated information will be analyzed and used for the team to approach the core problems.
  • Ideate: generating ideas, thinking outside the box to come up with possible solutions. It is time to look for alternative ways to see the problem statement and identify innovative solutions.
  • Prototype: turning ideas from the previous stage into prototypes to ensure the product is actually solving the user’s problem. A prototype will help to turn ideas into something tangible in an inexpensive way and scaled-down version.
  • Test: evaluating the prototypes by putting them in front of users to see how they interact with it and gather feedback to elaborate the final version of the product.In this last stage of the process, it is time to evaluate the results and maybe redesign the prototype, normally teams have to redefine several times until finding the users ideal solution. 

The importance of Digital Product Management

Digital Product Managers are the key part of this process and for this reason is important for them to learn the techniques and skills to devise, create and manage a successful digital product. They lead the strategy, the creation and the continuous evolution of the product, as well as the capabilities to communicate effectively with multi-functional teams at all levels of the organization. 

Mastering all the agile techniques and methodologies of development of a digital product is not an easy task because it involves managing working teams and iterating in the product design. Digital Product Managers play a fundamental role in organizing, processing and prioritizing the data generated at each stage of the product to validate decision making.

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