Right from the beginning, we adapted a “five step design thinking process” which allowed us to revive our innovative ideas. Our thinking methodology accommodates a structure, which enables a creative thought process that is result driven. At Inside you can clearly see the symbiosis between the great minds of our designers and our very intellectual software engineers.
The Five Step Design Thinking Process:
Defining the Problem
The key to success lies in defining the right problem to be solved and doing this over and over along the way, as the information constantly adds up. About a hundred years ago, the Wright brothers launched the first controlled man powered flight. Although they were the underdog in the flight race, they were able to beat the competition because they examined the problem in a different perspective. While the rest of the world was trying to build the most powerful engine, the Wright brothers were looking into how a plane could be controlled once it was in the air.
Just like the Wright brothers, we challenged the idea of indoor navigation. We questioned the need for complicated hardware solutions. We also couldn’t understand why technology companies were pursuing a hardware based solution, which led to long deployment, wasn’t very accurate, and was not environment friendly. Challenging the status quo, led us to develop a groundbreaking hardware-free navigation solution.
Exploring Various Options
One of the biggest challenges for startups, is the ability to curve jump between ideas. We encourage everyone in our company to look for solutions in exotic places. We like to call this part of the process, “radical thinking”. We let our imagination run free, let all known barriers and paradigms go and break out. For a designer, this process may seem like a no-brainer, as we are already programmed to scan a problem from all angles. However for others, examining the artsy side, the scientific side, the natural side, and more, will not come across as easily doable.
When we were brainstorming the concept of indoor navigation, we focused on how things navigate rather than asking ourselves how to achieve ‘WiFi triangulation’, ’beacons’, and ‘GPS amplifiers’. As part of our journey, we took a closer look into nature to find simple solutions. That’s when we stumbled upon a 4 pixel machine that is also known as our friendly ant. These simple machines can travel 100 meters and find their way back to a pin sized hole. For a human that is the equivalent to traveling from your house 50 kilometers and then back again.
It’s almost unavoidable that the ideas which were conceived at the beginning of a project will be replaced by others. Taking into account new depths of understanding that evolve along the projects lifecycle. This is not a waste of time, but a necessity. The original ideas needed to be seen as the scaffolding of the structure that are removed once the structure or product takes final form.
It’s important to keep the company agile; to be able to use the accumulated experience but at the same time be able to let go of dead ends. Any solution is challengeable, anything we do we may redo, since our experience should allow us to do it better. Creating an environment conducive to growth and experimentation is key to success. Often, we will split our team to smaller groups in order to encourage different individuals to take on the same problem with different approaches to the solution. Afterwards, we take these solutions and test all of them. Sometimes we will find that certain solutions do not solve the problem they were meant to, however may be useful to solve other issues.
The art of execution is the ability to transcend ideas into reality. This part of the process involves testing and adjusting the idea to the conditions of the real world. Once we have chosen our solution, we quickly build a prototype and go back to the drawing board again and again, until our solution is viable.
Build it for Others, Build it for You
At Inside we all use the products we build. In fact, it’s mandatory! The best way to build something is by using it and testing it yourself over and over again in real-life situations. We also take the time to learn the roles of our peers to understand how our work influences others within the company. By doing this we also get to quickly understand the needs and requirements of the product from many angles, cutting development time.
Finally, we constantly evolve from others in our development. Users are extremely diverse and more often than not will try to use our product differently than our original intent.
I do hope that by sharing our five step design thinking process we can help other startups like us, as well as any company in general, to enhance their creativity. Bringing helpful innovation and useful tools into the world is a major responsibility. If we’re going to take on that responsibility, we should do it right.