Creative Problem-Solving Strategies to Test Your Business Idea

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Truly innovative small businesses and startups create a bold vision of a future that doesn’t exist yet, solving problems that customers don’t even know they have. But they don’t pull that vision out of thin air — many inventive companies use a strategy called design thinking.

“Design thinking is a problem-solving approach,” says Jeanne Liedtka, a design and innovation expert at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “It’s a set of tools that help you make decisions in the kinds of high uncertainty situations that entrepreneurs face.”

 

While business schools typically emphasize market research and data, design thinking focuses on real world interaction and experimentation. Many entrepreneurs naturally use ideas from this approach, but it’s typically taught at design schools as a process for creating new products.

Using a design-thinking approach, entrepreneurs become anthropologists, studying the customers they hope to serve and using that knowledge to get simple prototypes into their hands quickly. “The power of a design thinking approach is that you get deep insight into customer needs,” Liedtka says.

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