Jan Stellmach Design Thinking Empathy Map

How design thinking has fundamentally changed the way I work.

The world is fast moving and digitized today. The possibilities of the digitized world have become almost unmanageable. Between all these options, it is often very difficult for companies to recognize what is relevant and what is important. With this challenge, customers approach me every day. Over the course of many years in the design industry, I have experienced and applied various approaches to extensive projects.

With the practical experience and many impulses from the industry, it has proven to be the most successful and sustainable way for me to put people back in focus. Many questions are answered so much easier and the results are more sustainable. This approach to complex challenges fromapproaches a user perspective has its own name: Design Thinking. You can find more tips on sustainable marketing in my article 7 approaches for Successful Marketing.

The principle of design thinking

Design thinking is a systematic approach to complex problems. The approach goes far beyond the classic design disciplines such as shaping and design.

The basic idea is to put people at the center of all considerations. For companies, this means dealing intensively with their own customers. In practice, this may not sound obvious, because many companies have grown over the years and decades and in this way have at some point lost the user’s view. The WHAT and HOW are still easy to answer, but the question of WHY often causes silence.

In order to put yourself in the role of the customer or the user and to understand him, it is first of all important to know who the user is. This is where the principles of design thinking come in. It is important to observe, identify and understand the needs of the users. Insights gained from this are the starting point for the actual generation of ideas.

With all the options that we have on the market today, you make sure that people are at the center of all considerations. You can specify your tasks, get to know customers and thus also identify clear brand attributes for your company.

Jan Stellmach Design Thinking Empathy Map Marty Neumeier

How design thinking changed the way I work

Compared to my previous approach to projects, the biggest difference today is that of asking intensive questions and listening. That sounds banal at first, but it makes a huge difference for the entire course of the project.

For me it is a question of responsibility. I feel a great responsibility for my customers and take them very seriously, just as I do my responsibilities as an entrepreneur towards my employees. That is why successful and sustainable solutions are at the center of my actions.

People contact me and my agency with your company and the desire for optimization. We can do something for our customers that they cannot do themselves. They entrust us with their project and often the entire appearance of their company. This requires care, trust and sustainable solutions.

However, this approach has not yet arrived everywhere in the industry and is therefore new and unusual for many customers.
In the past, project inquiries were structured more like orders or work orders for me, and that’s how I fulfilled them. Fulfilled in the truest sense of the word as a vicarious agent.

Today I like to use the example from the doctor’s visit:

When I go to the doctor, I first describe my problem because that’s why you usually visit a doctor. There is a pain point – a problem for which a solution should be found. It is exactly the same when you want to hire a branding expert, a designer or an advertising agency. You have a problem and you are looking for a solution.

A thorough examination should now be carried out by the doctor (the expert). In the age of Google, you may already have an idea of ​​what your problem is and how it could look like a possible solution. However, I strongly believe that your expectations of your doctor are that he does not simply rely on your self-diagnosis and that he will issue a prescription as your assistant. Holistic doctors don’t just treat symptoms, they look for causes and sustainable solutions and, in the best case, even work preventively.

And that’s why I take my responsibility for my customers very seriously and deal with the wishes and challenges behind an initial request. In my experience, there are usually no quick and easy solutions to complex problems. And that’s why I take my responsibility for my customers very seriously and deal with the wishes and challenges behind an initial request. In my experience, there are usually no quick and easy solutions to complex problems.

Jan Stellmach im Dialog - Experte für Markenbildung und Design Thinking

If you come to the agency with the request for a new website, I will therefore ask you questions like this:

  • Why do you need a new website?
  • What is your goal?
  • Why are you currently not reaching it?
  • What do we want to do differently?
  • Who are your customers
  • What are your needs?
  • What is the success of our measures worth?
  • How much do we want to invest?
  • Why does it have to be finished by date X?

An approach based on the basics of design thinking is associated with intensive work. There may be more questions than you are used to. But I guarantee that they will make the result better, more successful and more sustainable than simply accepting an order and working through it.

On this basis, the first projects for me and my customers were so incredibly effective, targeted and successful that I don’t want to work any other way today.

It is always cheaper, faster and easier. These promises are waiting around every corner, and in isolation they are sometimes true. The question is what your company, your challenge or the solution to your problem are worth to you. Do you expect care, reliability and sustainable, measurable results? Then I firmly believe that the path of design thinking is the right one for you. That is why design thinking is the basis for my approach to projects today.

Empathy Map – a Design Thinking example from practice

I would like to conclude the topic with a practical example of design thinking for you. The Empathy Map is a simple but very effective tool to gain assessments of the perception and feeling world of your customer. As the name suggests, the Empathy Map is less about data and facts. For you, it’s about feeling yourself in your customers with feelings, thoughts and actions. Instead of sober data, the focus is on empathy.

Jan Stellmach Design Thinking am Beispiel der Empathy Map

I have created a free Empathy Map template that you are welcome to download. Maybe it will already help you with your next challenge.

Tip: Add an uninvolved, external person. So you can reflect and maybe come up with completely new approaches. The change of perspective can also release enormous energy here.

Other sources

I hope with this contribution I was able to offer you an insight into the topic of design thinking, bring the principle closer and also share my experience with you. Perhaps the template for the empathy map will help you to test design thinking in a practical way.

I was able to gain many ideas, strategies and approaches from this and other posts in my blog through the fantastic books by Marty Neumeier. Marty Neumeier is an American author and speaker who writes on the topics of brand, design, innovation and creativity. If you want to deepen the topics, I can only recommend his books.r seine Bücher nur empfehlen.