Value creation for your customers: Combining design thinking and Lean Start up Methodology

Design Thinking as a human-centred approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

Nairobi Garage and Startup Mentoring in collaboration with GrowthAfrica hosted Erik Kristiansen, Founder of Brains and an Enpact Mentor at Nairobi Garage during a workshop on using design thinking and Lean Startup methodology to capture increased value for customers. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO describes Design Thinking (DT) as a human-centred approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. He further continues and states that this approach brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.

Erik Kristiansen’s demo on helping Martin

Erik Kristiansen used Martin Ruga’s vision for his company to explain to us how we can combine design thinking and Lean Start up Methodology. Martin Ruga is the Founder of Desserts Anyone Limited, a Kenyan chocolate manufacturing company. He needed help in identifying a chocolate box packaging design that is African themed and appeals to his target customers. Part of making the workshop more practical in solving Martin’s problem was the sampling various brands of chocolate by the audience while providing feedback on our thoughts about the taste, packaging and the feeling we attached to the chocolate. Everyone gave a different opinion which allowed us to see that most customers will buy a product based on the feeling they attached to it.

Following this exercise, Erik Kristiansen took us through three ways in which, as an entrepreneur or organisation, you can have a better understanding of your customers before launching a product. These ways are:

  1. Observe their behaviour – Observe where your customers go, what they do, what they enjoy doing, how they spend their time
  2. Qualitative research – Ask people questions that touch on their behaviour, knowledge and emotions
  3. Qualitative studies – This means that you have to continuously talk to your customers to find out what areas in their life you can offer help to them

The design thinking process is innovation focused and majors on three main elements; desirability, viability and Feasibility. This process takes place in four stages; inspiration, ideation, iteration and scale/implementation. Inspiration is about framing a design challenge and discovering new perspectives on the opportunity whereby, the entrepreneur will identify the challenge and devise a way of approaching it. Ideation stage involves generating ideas and making them tangible while working together with a team of cross disciplinary experts. Iteration involves continual experimentation, test and validation based on user feedback and inventing new ways of improving the product. What makes design thinking a recommended process to apply is:

  1. It is human centred in all processes
  2. It focuses on solving problems people really have
  3. It promotes cross disciplinary collaboration- people of different fields come together to solve a common problem
  4. It supports structures and processes for scale

Erik Kristiansen and Martin Ruga, Founder Dessert Anyone

Design thinking is however not a guarantee for successful implementation of radical innovations; combining it with Lean Start up principles will make it more effective. The Lean start up principles are; ideas, build, product, measure, data and learn whereby, the core component is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. Erik Kristiansen concluded that in order to manage the minimum viable product (MVP) test phase in Lean Start up methodology, using the SMED and KANBAN principles will be most effective in result delivery. These principles include the following;

  1. Let only one team see the whole experiment through from end to end –and spread the learnings.
  2. Specify a given time for experiments depending on the level of test.
  • Finalise the test within this time.
  • Test strategy may depend on product/service/prototype category (new feature on existing product? / a new product / a new product category)
  • Each single experiment targets a specified number of customers
  1. Use no more than 5 –10 actionable metrics/Success criteria in your standard report to evaluate your experiment.
  2. Use Identical Metrics to measure the success of a given action across teams working in the same sandbox. If not –data are not actionable.
  3. During conducting experiments –all teams involved must monitor the metrics and customer reactions
  • If the test shows out of scope: potentially abort the experiment/process.