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Lean Startup vs. Design Thinking: What is the Difference?

Lean Startup vs. Design Thinking: What is the Difference?

Facing challenges in a business can be simpler when you use the right tools. But do you know how to make this choice? To define the necessary changes to overcome any difficulties, it is necessary to know your company’s objectives.

In this context, Design Thinking and Lean are useful approaches that apply to different types of businesses. Discover the main similarities and differences between them and make the most suitable choice for your business.

More corporate professionals are being introduced to a world where terms such as design thinking, lean, and agile.

In this article, you will see the difference between Lean Methodology and Design Thinking and how you can make both works together for your company’s goals and missions.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is the approach that seeks to solve problems through empathy with stakeholders (stakeholders), creativity in generating insights and solutions, and rationality in the analysis and assembly of answers to the problem.

The tool aims to produce solutions that generate new meanings and stimulate the various aspects (cognitive, emotional, and sensory) involved in human experience. Through design thinking, strategies are used that will meet the needs of people along with what is technologically feasible.

Although the name “design” is often associated with the quality and aesthetic appearance of products, as a discipline. Design Thinking deals with different meanings and aims to promote well-being in people’s lives.

Design-driven innovation draws attention not only to technological and marketing factors – focusing on the development or integration of new technologies and opening and/or serving new markets – but also to the importance of introducing new meanings to products and services or relationships.

Therefore, Design Thinking intends to understand cultures, experiences, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to gather information to inspire a project.

To reach this stage it is necessary to operate the three phases of Design Thinking: Immersion, Ideation, and Prototyping. Design Thinking seeks to deeply know your target audience, investigate problems, discover opportunities, in addition to building, testing, and implementing solutions generated throughout the process.

The pillars of Design Thinking

The cornerstones of design thinking are empathy, collaboration, and experimentation. These pillars are fundamental to the implementation of this method of thinking.

  • Empathy is fundamental in a human-focused strategy. Through it, it is possible to understand the other’s needs, desires, problems, and frustrations to understand them and discover the best attitudes to solve them.
  • This approach assumes that the creation and maturation of ideals occur fully and completely through cooperation and collaboration. It is a creative process in which each one has a relevant and important role in the construction.
  • Last but not least is the pillar of experimentation. It is through this that the applicability and success of an idea in a context. Only through feedback, it is possible to mature ideas and discover errors, to improve them.

Lean Methodology

On the other hand, the Lean Methodology understands problem-solving as the elimination of any wasteful practices. It adds value during the development phase of a product. Thus, the chances of a business succeeding are greater, without having to resort to external financing amounts or to design the “perfect” product.

Consumer participation is critical in this approach. The product needs to build and develop partnerships with it. Also, it needs to identify who this customer is and shape the product that will be destined for him.

This can be done by building a user journey map. You can describe in detail the company’s relationship with its customer to identify gaps or new opportunities to improve your customer’s experience with the company.

The Lean methodology can be applied when budget and time are limited for new business development when it is necessary to generate new business in environments of extreme uncertainty or a project is managed with a focus on the business result and not on the control of implementation of its functionalities, among other possibilities.

In addition to reducing costs and eliminating waste, Lean also adds value to the customer, provides simpler and more accurate information management, creates processes that require less space, capital, time, and human effort to produce; reducing the risk of defects in products or services compared to traditional business systems. And using GitScrum’s Task Checklists will help you organize all these processes and prioritize a set of activities for your company. 

Design Thinking vs Lean

The similarities between both methods are: fostering innovation, user focus, cost reduction in prototyping, and quick learning. Design Thinking is intuitive, it observes to discover unmet needs.  Users are people and its objective is to solve problems.

Lean is analytical, starting with the founder’s vision. Users are customers and its objective is to develop a business model.

Choosing between Lean methodology or Design Thinking depends a lot on what you want to do. Build the product, test it and then pivot it, or let the problem precede the product’s existence?

With this information, ask what your business goals are, what are the main challenges you need to overcome and assess which methodology is most in line with your goals.

Adding the particularities of each of the methodologies presented is one of the most efficient and sustainable ways of generating value. You will:

  • Define the idea from the empathic view of Design Thinking;
  • Transform this idea into a sustainable and valid business model through Lean Startup;

Most startups fail because they invest time and resources in products that no one wants. By combining these three strategies, you will be drastically reducing the risk of producing something other than market space.

That’s because, as you can see, the three concepts turn their eyes to the customer: the end-user, through direct and immediate feedback. This feedback prevents things from producing that don’t make sense to the consumer.

In simple words, instead of making a thousand plans and calculations on a paper or an Excel spreadsheet, the entrepreneur focuses on building a real idea, a solution, a useful product, based on tests and prototypes pre-approved by his audience.

Feedback is success

Validated learning ensures that the business goes through the feedback cycle: Build-measure-learn. This is the time to find out what you need to learn.

To then find out which product you must develop to run the experiment and obtain the determined measurement.

This is a difficult process due to the very nature of a startup. To achieve success a startup must learn to solve the user’s problem through innovation. And this you must do in the shortest time possible, with only the necessary resources.

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