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Using design thinking to innovate

Nurdianah Md Nur | May 28, 2014
Project teams at DBS put themselves in the shoes of their customers to better understand the customers’ needs and preferences before developing a product or tweaking a process accordingly.

Instead of selling a product according to the perceived needs of customers, DBS bank is creating products and tweaking its services based on customers' actual needs.

The Singapore bank does so by allowing project teams to experience a simulated customer journey and thereafter propose improvements to a process or develop new products that deem fit. This concept is known as design thinking, in which one is tasked to think like a designer; to question the problem at hand, see what needs to be done and then generate multiple perspectives to the solution.  

Showing its strong support for this concept, DBS has set up a Customer Journey Design Lab for prototyping and design thinking training. The lab was opened in June last year and is located at the 40th storey of its office building at Marina Bay Financial Tower 3 . "The lab aims to encourage innovation and collaboration based on role play and research," said Raju Nair, head of Customer Journey Design at DBS Bank. Project teams are encouraged to use the lab to design, prototype and test their concepts before roll out.

DBS customer lab prototype
Credit: DBS. A prototyping area at the DBS Customer Journey Design Lab

To stimulate innovation, the lab is designed as a flexible space, where panels are foldable and boards are on wheels. The lab is also filled with a mix of sofas and chairs, signages with humourous messages and free snacks, thus giving off the feel that you're not in a typical office or meeting room.

DBS customer lab
Credit: DBS. A corner of DBS' Customer Journey Design Lab.

The design thinking (also known as Human-Centred Design led innovation at DBS) training typically goes like this:

  • Project teams will be briefed of the customer's habits and preferences.
  • They will then interview the customer (role played by another employee) and go through some research materials related to their project topic.
  • Each team member will then need to categorise their findings into positive (pink), negative (blue) and opportunities (green). Each point or idea is to be written on one sticky note according to the colours indicated.
  • Sticky notes are to be pasted on a board according to the categories. Sticky notes with similar points will be grouped together.
  • Thereafter, each team member will draw a proposed product or idea based on a group before presenting their idea to the team.
  • Ideas or proposed products that will proceed forward will be decided by voting from the team members.

"With this process, every member will get a chance to voice their ideas and opinions," said Nair. He added that when ideas or findings are grouped during the process, teams will find it easier to understand what processes need to be changed or refined as well as what products need to be developed.

 

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