New Ways of Working to Help Researchers Solve Problems, Test and Build Solutions

June 29, 2021

Nicholas Lee
Senior Creative Designer

For the next six installments of Monthly Dose of Design, we’re going to discuss how you can use new ways of working to solve your client’s problems. The ways of working we’re going to cover are Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile. Yes, we know some people THINK these are buzz words. But they aren’t. They’re effective ways of working which we use daily. And not just us! Brands like Nike, Air BnB, Zappos, and Dropbox use them too!

Why is this relevant to you?

Market research’s purpose is to solve business problems. To do this market researchers must adapt to new feedback and insights in order to answer client’s questions. The new ways of working we’ll introduce you to will help you by providing different ways to explore problems, create ideas, and test solutions whilst being adaptable to new feedback. To start with, we’ll give you an overview of what these new ways of working are and how they can help you.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an iterative process that designers use to solve problems. It combines the user’s needs and pain points with technological feasibility and business practicalities. In doing so, it balances rigor and creativity to generate new ideas for products and services.

Design Thinking’s key values are:

  • Empathy: Understanding the problems and opportunities through research, to ensure that the solution is human-centric
  • Ideas: Generating as many ideas as possible, to ensure a wide range of design routes that lead to prototypes being created
  • Validation: Learning and improving prototypes which will lead to the development of functional services/products through testing

What is the Lean Startup?

The Lean Startup is an iterative methodology used for developing brands, products, and services. It aims to shorten product development cycles by rapidly testing solutions, then measuring their performance and improving them based upon this feedback to ensure that the proposed solution is viable.

Lean Startup’s key values are:

  • Build: Creating a minimum viable product (a prototype with basic features that cheaply reflects the capabilities of the full product)
  • Measure: Testing the prototype with customers
  • Learn: Understanding what works and what doesn’t, and improving upon these findings

The Lean Startup thrives when there are lots of unknown factors and uncertainty when developing a new brand, product, or service, due to its ability to quickly understand and test assumptions.

What is Agile?

Agile is a project management methodology originally used in software development. Its aim is to combat high rates of failure.

Agile’s key values are:

  • Teamwork: getting strong individual team member support that leads to a strong team
  • Execution over documentation: doing work instead of talking about work, most learnings from Agile come from executing work
  • Customer collaboration: including the customer throughout the whole of the project
  • Adaptability: adapting to change and not sticking to an outdated plan

Similar to the Lean Startup, Agile relies on gathering rapid feedback, producing iterative releases, and being able to rapidly adapt the design plan to best meet the needs of its users. Like Design Thinking, solutions are constantly evolving throughout the process based on customer feedback.


5 Common Misconceptions of Agile Market Research

The key difference of Agile is that the framework divides the project into smaller chunks (called Sprints) which can be completed in batches. This allows project teams to adapt faster to the changes that new insights might bring and ensure that the solution meets the customer’s needs.

The table below shows a general overview of the purpose, core values, differences, and similarities of Design Thinking, Lean Startup & Agile.

In a nutshell, Design Thinking explores the problems and ideates possible solutions, Lean Startup tests possible solutions, while Agile employs adaptability to new feedback and insights pushing the product towards completion.

Next month

In Part 2: The lean start-up for market research, we’ll discuss the Lean Startup in more detail and show you can use it within market research.

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