Want to stay relevant in a constantly changing market? This is how design thinking can help

Design Thinking for Innovators – a brand new course for entrepreneurs now available at the VC4A Startup Academy. The self-paced course by Butterfly Works includes real cases and challenges faced by entrepreneurs as well as interactive tools and methodologies to test new theories and develop agile solutions.

Design thinking is a human-centered creative process that helps you solve real problems. The key to design thinking is understanding the needs of the end-user. When combined with co-creation, design thinking leverages the power of collaboration, as problems are best solved by those who experience them. Applying design thinking tools helps entrepreneurs look at the bigger ecosystem around their business, encourage fresh ideas, thinking through making, and how to adapt solutions to the market needs.

The challenges and opportunities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic led business owners to navigate the uncertainties and come up with new ways of producing, delivering, and serving their customers. Entrepreneurship is a journey of constant learning and adaptation, yet entrepreneurs are not always equipped to be resilient and innovative. It is important to build a culture where entrepreneurs are constantly looking at elements that can be improved, and where they take time to look ahead and plan for an uncertain future.

Dig deeper into your customer needs

Many entrepreneurs start a business from an idea for a solution they have in mind, without ensuring that this idea is solving a real problem. Only to realize that their solution is not viable when they have brought it to the market. If your solution is based on assumptions of your customers’ problems, it will most likely not fulfill customers’ needs.

It is important to check your own assumptions with a range of potential customers. The earlier you do this, the easier it is to adjust your proposition and ensure you will solve a real need for them.

Group during a research session discussing and mapping their own user experience.Group during a research session discussing and mapping their own user experience.


Fast, cheap, and adaptable solutions 

Entrepreneurs can spend months and lots of resources to bring an entirely functioning product or service to the market. After all the effort and resources have been spent, it is not unusual that the solution is not as positively received as expected. Sometimes customers do not adopt the solution because they are not completely satisfied with all the product elements, or they have solved their problem in other ways. It is important to test your solution early on; the earlier you find things that aren’t working, the easier you can adapt your solution to match customer needs.

Prototype of an application to be tested with end-users in the early stages of development.


Leveraging the ecosystem

Many entrepreneurs don’t have a good understanding of the ecosystem in which their organizations are embedded. By not knowing how their organization relates to other actors and factors that have an influence in their ecosystem, entrepreneurs fail in leveraging their full potential. For example, most entrepreneurs find it challenging to explore partnership and collaboration opportunities with other organizations and research institutes, as well as navigating the uncertainties and fast-paced changes, such as the ones imposed by the COVID pandemic measures.

Ecosystem mapping is done with different stakeholders to map all the relevant actors who influence the work of the entrepreneur. In this image, the group is looking at potential risk factors and opportunities within the ecosystem around the business.


It takes a team to grow a business

Many starting entrepreneurs find it challenging to have a transparent decision-making process and a structured communication process within their teams. In particular, when teams start growing, this needs attention. Most of the time, decisions are made by the founder or product owner and a big part of the team is unaware or not consulted. This became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when many organizations needed to shift towards digital and remote ways of working and doing business.

Sticky notesA simple activity at the start of a meeting to visualize and align expectations among the team can bring more ownership to the work.


Join the Butterfly Works Design Thinking for innovators course and community

The learning journey is made up of 3 mini-courses:

  • In Discovering Design Thinking you will gain a better understanding of design thinking and its benefits. You will dive into the steps of the design thinking process, common vocabulary, and mindset exercises.
  • In Understanding your Customer you will apply your knowledge to real problems and how to solve them. This course looks more in-depth at challenges and user needs, helping you validate your business model and align with market needs.
  • In Developing Agile Solutions you are going to learn by doing! With some quick and easy ways to validate your idea, you can bring your solution to the market faster.

Entrepreneurs need to dedicate around 3 hours per course. The structure is self-paced, allowing you to choose the modules that match your specific needs and take them at a time that suits your schedule.

Find more information and start your learning journey!

You will also have the opportunity to be part of an exclusive community to deepen your knowledge, ask questions, learn from each other’s experience and apply the design thinking methods.