By Greg Roth

Design thinking comes to banking and credit unions

If you are at a company or in a field where design thinking hasn’t been welcomed, here is a piece targeted at the financial sector — specifically banks and credit unions — that serves as a good introduction.

Before diving into what design-inspired creative problem solving is, the article looks at the central struggle for these institutions:

Design thinking revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom you’re designing products and services. It helps you observe and develop empathy with the target user.

This is the reverse of how banks and credit unions traditionally design products and services. Instead of focusing on the consumer experience, financial institutions tend to develop products to meet their own internal processes and operational efficiencies. They then tend to put a pretty wrapper on the product and call it a day.

Financial institutions then wonder then why so many consumers get frustrated — e.g., they abandon the online account opening half-way through the process. The online account opening doesn’t meet the user’s need or address their problem; they want to open an account without having to go to a branch. Design thinking, in theory, would solve that problem.

The post then goes on to talk about IDEO’s model, although, thankfully, first clarifies that design thinking is not a new phenomenon (it’s been around since the 1960s). It is, however, widely misunderstood, difficult to grasp, and the product of an entirely different school of thinking outside most information economy jobs. Surprise, folks who have never been exposed to design program aren’t that well-equipped to start thinking like a designer, no matter how much we tell them that’s who they are.

But, you have to start somewhere. I believe it starts with knowing how to talk about ideas that are still works-in-process.: the power of critique.