When design thinking leverages efficiency for creative teams

Companies naturally strive to encourage creativity and to innovate, but how can they achieve this? Much research has looked at individual creativity. However, co-creativity has been slightly overlooked in marketing research.

Co-creativity designates the form of creativity that emerges in teams and in a logic of collaborative innovation. It is also called design thinking and it is increasingly used in companies as it generates “real” innovations. For instance, using the game dynamic and trying to surprise the children, a medical facility becomes like a boat and the medical examination gets transformed into a treasure hunt! This has an impact on families, on medical staff… and ultimately on the cost of healthcare. A better understanding of the creativity process based on design thinking becomes an important challenge.

A medical facility adapted to kids thanks to design thinking

What is design thinking?

The idea of design thinking is to focus on a definition of the needs and uses of the consumer, a definition which must intervene at a very stage of the creative process. It should allow organizations to be more creative in the design of their products and services by placing teams in a problem-solving logic based on a process that includes different stages.

What makes this creativity process efficient?

In an article by Maud Dampérat, Florence Jeannot, Eline Jongmans and Alain Jolibert, researchers propose and test the conceptualization of a co-creativity process based on design thinking by including the distinctive role of individual variables at each stage of the process. The proposed model integrates the three stages of design thinking:

  1. Defining needs,
  2. Producing ideas,
  3. Prototyping the solution.

Throughout these three stages, the authors formulate various hypotheses about, for instance, the determinants of the fluidity of the production of ideas, of the diversity of the ideas produced, of their convergence or of the quality of the materialization of these ideas.

From a scenario that took place over a period of a month and a half, the participants in a creativity seminar had to develop a concept that would meet the challenge faced by a company. To do so, they had to follow a process of co-creativity based on design thinking. Different elements appear to be key in the creative process :

  • Clearer user needs lead to a more fluid production of ideas, which in turn increases the diversity of ideas produced. The “needs definition” phase therefore proves to be an important prerequisite for the successful production of ideas.
  • At the prototyping stage, a medium to high level of diversity in the ideas improves the quality of the materialization, thus revealing its usefulness during the co-creativity process”.
  • In addition, the quality of the materialization improves when it proved easier to converge towards a single solution. It is important to note that some individual variables such as empathy have a specific influence on the stages of the co-creativity process.

Should managers use design thinking to improve the creative production of their teams?

The answer is YES! Setting up a co-creativity process based on design thinking does improve the quality of teams’ creative productions. It will work as long as you skillfully play on the specific levers of action at each stage of the process, and if you always include the appropriate individual profiles in the team!

As business is now driven by the economy of experience, managers can seek inspiration from the approach of designers in a logic of co-creation by promoting collective intelligence and alternating intuitive phase and analysis. Design thinking is undoubtedly relevant for innovating! And that should come as a surprise! Design thinking and marketing have (or should have) one essential thing in common: both should be focused on the needs and uses of the consumer, and this should come very early in the process.

Dampérat, M., Jeannot, F., Jongmans, E., & Jolibert, A. (2016). Team creativity: Creative self-efficacy, creative collective efficacy and their determinants. Recherche et Applications En Marketing (English Edition), 31(3), 6–25.

Blog post adapted by Fabien Pecot from Regine Vanheems‘ post in French

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