Combining ‘lean’ and ‘design thinking’

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 09.54.30We’ve been thinking recently about how to combine design thinking with the lean startup methodology. The diagram above was drawn by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO to describe the three tenets of design thinking (for those that don’t know Tim is perhaps the world’s leading proponent of design thinking). Lean startup has a lot to say about viability (will customers pay?) and can be easily extended into feasibility (what assumptions do I have to believe for this product to work?), but doesn’t have much to say about desirability. Instead it is left to the entrepreneur to intuit what her customers want.

My thinking is that we can augment our existing lean startup process at Forward Investment Partners to also make sure that our companies are connecting as deeply as possible with the true needs of their customers, and to imbue their products with emotional meaning as well as function. When big companies employ ‘design thinking’ they usually spend a lot of time and money observing customers. Our opportunity is to find the quick and dirty equivalent which works for startups.