Design Thinking is a method used to resolve problems with a human-centered approach. At Tribe, we’ve used this method to understand employees’ communications needs and develop solutions for them. As described in the Interaction Design Foundation, Design Thinking is not necessarily a linear process but most of the time you can follow five steps to get to a comprehensive solution.
Here’s how we apply the five phases of design thinking in internal communications:
Understanding the employees’ communications challenges is the first step in a design thinking approach to a project. Researching the needs can be done by observation, conversations with people across the company, surveys, etc. Empathizing with people across the company and looking at the problem from different angles can help you identify the needs and problems.
After the research is done, there must be clarity on what specific problems need to be solved. Organizing needs in a priority scale can help with that. Here are some examples of internal communications challenges:
- Employees don’t understand how their roles contribute to the vision or mission
- Employees are having a difficult time finding what they need on the intranet
- Employees don’t find the content in the newsletter valuable or interesting
After steps 1 and 2, the team should be ready to develop ideas. Brainstorming, mind mapping and sketching can all be useful techniques. (Here’s a post from the Board of Innovation where they share several design thinking ideation tools.) At Tribe, our internal communications expertise is our best tool for this step.
In the prototyping phase, the team selects the best ideas and implements them in a “scaled down version of the product.” If we’re designing an intranet, for example, we can start laying out visuals and content into a prototyping program to see what’s getting us closer to a solution and what’s not. This step helps us understand the opportunities, strengths and also limitations.
Showing the prototype to leaders and employees and collecting their feedback is the best way to evaluate the progress. Since design thinking could be a non-linear process, the comments received can spark new prototype ideas, understand the users more, or even reveal the need to rethink the problem.
If you need help identifying internal communications needs or developing internal communications projects, Tribe can help.