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Why you should combine design thinking and systems thinking in front end innovation

Differentiate in the process of growth

By Patrick Link, 21/12/2017

The early stages of an innovation process are often called Front End Innovation, Upstream or Upfront Innovation or Pre-Development-Phase. They are characterized by the ambiguity, high complexity and often unclear customer needs, as well as technological and economic uncertainties.

The importance of a well-defined concept, including product/service conception, business design and clear determination of the customer needs, is fundamental before the development begins.

Systems Thinking and Systems Engineering help to visualise and understand the situation. However, in the early stages of a project, the general understanding is often limited, and different system variants might be considered.

Design Thinking, on the other hand, is an iterative, team-oriented problem solving approach that focuses on users and customers. The Design Thinking mind-set and process is based on fast iterations and intensive customer/user interaction. This is often done with simple, physical prototypes (mock-ups). Critical functions or experiences are investigated profoundly. With that, deep learnings are achieved and the understanding of complex problems improves.

Design Thinking and Systems Engineering are both problem solving methods that try to cope with increasing complexity. Both approaches are, at first glance, completely different. However, upon closer investigation, it becomes more evident that they are complementary and share many principles.

The combination of Systems Thinking, Design Thinking and Lean Start-Up in the upfront innovation phase supports an in-depth understanding of the problems, resulting in a more sophisticated handling of complexity and, ultimately, the creation of sustainable concepts and solutions.

In the seminar we will apply and practice Design Thinking with a hands-on approach, and you will understand the basics of Design Thinking and Lean Innovation.

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