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Entrepreneurship Assignment: Applying Design Thinking on Self-Heating Butter Knife


Task: Think of a business opportunity or problem that you would like to work on, and prepare a report on entrepreneurship assignment on how you would apply design-thinking methods in this context. An integral foundation of this assessment is to clearly articulate an appropriate start-up ecosystem in which your proposed start-up is intended.


Executive Summary
The concept of design thinking methodology examined in the entrepreneurship assignment is a widespread application in businesses. In the entrepreneurship ecosystem, the design thinking helps in identification and understanding of the needs of the customers. Accordingly, the problems that negatively impact a business can be addressed. The solutions are valued over the processes. The entrepreneur’s success lies in their innovation and creativity, which is facilitated by design thinking methodology. In this report, an innovative business idea will be discussed with reference to the application of a specific approach to design thinking methodology.

According to Elia, Margherita and Passiante (2020), an entrepreneurship ecosystem refers to a system in which there are some independent actors along with certain relations which peculiarly support the new ventures’ creation and development directly or indirectly. The entrepreneurships are affected by the ecosystems in which the economic and social environments are included. Design thinking as stated byElsbachandStigliani (2018) refers to the practical, cognitive and strategic processes through which the development of the design concepts takes place. Design thinking is very useful concept that is being applied to business these days for generating better outcomes. The businesses have shifted towards being more customer-centric. This helps the organisations to understand the need of the customers and meet their demand. The businesses that understand their customers well and cater to their needs, sustain in the competitive market and earn higher profits. In this entrepreneurship assignment, the significance of design thinking in business will be evaluated. The way in which design thinking makes business user-centred and adds value to the business will be discussed in details with reference to certain models and theories.

Application of Design Thinking in Business
Design Thinking Methodology

As per Micheliet al (2019), design thinking is basically an approach which facilitates problem solving in a creative manner. Today, in the competitive business environment design thinking is highly valued because it makes a business more relevant as its product innovations are more human-centred. This entire concept of design thinking is often referred to as a philosophy, culture or methodology. Design thinking ensures that the design created is able to attain the business goals and serve the purpose beyond adding beauty.

For any business, the most challenging issue is that they fail to address the needs of their customers. The market is every changing and so do the customer demands. Therefore, one needs to remain relevant to sustain in the market in the long run. This requires thorough market research and an effective design thinking methodology. The businesses that focus on design thinking are actually able to understand the unmet requirements of the customers. The business organisations started realising that despite all efforts to meet the customers’ demand, they failed to create new products or make innovations (Matthewsand Wrigley, 2017). Therefore, design thinking started gaining prominence as the concept is based on customer needs.

In design thinking, the process considers the ethnographic background of the people, their thinking, behaviour, habits, motivations and needs. To innovate and meet the needs of the customers, the business must think of the everyday life of the customers and their probable requirements that could make life easier for them (Çeviker-Ç?nar, MuraandDemirba?-Kaplan, 2017). The humans interact with many services and products throughout the day to carry out their daily activities. The business or product innovations that integrate daily needs with creativity can gain success. Design thinking enables making innovations useful for the customers.

Design Thinking Models & Theories
As stated by Meisiek, WadandZubrickaite (2020), design thinking is an approach which is innovative and systematic and thus, finds diverse application in business. This creative method enables a sequential approach towards problem solving. The forming of the problem, its solution and developing a mindset for resolving it, this systematic approach is fostered through design thinking. There are three main principles of design thinking, which comprise empathy, invention and iteration. Empathy as Gachago et al(2017) suggests is required to connect with the users. The designers, engineers or business developers who are designing a product or service need to be empathetic towards the users or customers in order to understand their problems and pains. Thus, product innovation should be empathy driven. Invention is another significant aspect of design thinking, which implies that something new needs to be created that,does not already exist or can improve the existing solutions. The invention is mainly based on imagination and creation of the future, instead of accepting the present problems. As opined by Buhl et al (2019), iteration is an important principle of design thinking. The designers need to follow an iteration to develop a better understanding about the needs of the users, testing and finally positioning the solution that has been imagined for the users.

There are different types or models of design thinking. As per Oxman (2017), the various design thinking approaches include Google Design Sprints, DEEP design thinking, Austin Centre for design, IDEO, SAP, Design for America, Design Council UK, etc.

IDEO: The design thinking approach of the International Design and Consulting Form, IDEO, there are five phases involved in the design process. These include discover, interpretation, ideation, experimentation and evolution. SAP: In the Software Programming Company’s design thinking approach, SAP, there is various steps involved in the designing process. These steps comprise planning, researching, designing, adapting and measuring (Naiman, 2019).

Austin Centre for Design: In the educational program of Austin Centre for Design, there are three main stages in the design process. These include ethnography, synthesis and prototyping.

Among these, the Google Design Sprints would be used for the business idea proposed in this report.

Google Design Sprints
As per Al-Ali and Phaal (2019), Google Design Sprints is an approach to problem solving which involves a five day process. During these five days, some significant business questions are answered. These answers are critically found with the help of designing, prototyping and testing the ideas with the users or customers. The Google Design Sprints are one of the biggest hits in business problem solving. This approach o design thinking is an integration of business strategy, behavioural science, innovation and design thinking. Google Design Sprint is an effective design thinking methodology as it is battle-tested. Any business team can apply the model, as it is easy to implement and comprehend.

Business Proposal: Product
The product idea that is being proposed here is a self-heating butter knife. This is an innovative product and the innovation is expected to resolve a daily life problem faced by most of the people. As the butter is kept in the refrigerator, it gets cold and hard. The problem that the people face while using the butter is that it does not melt easily. It takes a long time for the butter to melt and get to the usable form so that it could be spread on the bread. The people facing this problem everyday try to either take out the butter beforehand from the fridge so that it gets the melting time or they try to heat it externally to melt it. In both the cases, it is a hassle. Thus, an invention like a self-heating butter knife could resolve this problem.

This product would be useful, as it will cut short the waiting time for the cold butter to melt. The breakfasts could be wrapped up in lesser time as most people have butter toast for breakfast. The people who are in a rush to reach school, college or office, would be benefitted with this time-efficient product. The basic mechanism behind this product would be that the knife would be a heat absorbing material. It will get heated on its own through the implementation of the concept of thermal conductivity. The heat from the hand of the user will be transmitted through the blade of the knife. This heat on reaching the cold and hardened surface of butter would soften and melt it. This would make it easier to use the butter and spread it on bread. This daily use appliance is a must in the kitchen.

Process of Product Innovation
There are certain stages or steps that are followed in the Google Design Sprints to resolve a problem in business. The first step is that of understanding. This step includes understanding who the users of the product are, what needs they have, in what context the product is being introduced, the competitor review of the product innovation and formulation of a strategy. The function of the next step is to diverge (Najafi-Tavani et al, 2018). This step involves envisioning, developing different ideas for solving the problem and ideating them.

Najafi Tavani in entrepreneurship assignment

(Source: Najafi-Tavani et al, 2018)

In the third step, the decision has to be taken. Among the various ideas for resolving the problem, the best has to be chosen and a storyboard of the idea needs to be created. In the next step, prototyping is done. A rough sample of the product is built. The product may not be presentable but the users would be shown the use value of it. The designers need to concentrate on developing a useful sample for the users to understand the product innovation’s utilisation and significance. The beauty of the product design should be the least concern in this case. The final stage of the Google Design Sprint is that of validation. The prototype is shown to the user of the product outside the business organisation. The feedbacks need to be taken on what is not right about the product so that it could be improved in the final design (de SáAraújo et al, 2019).

In case of the self-heating knife, these five steps will be followed. It is very clear to the designers that the target customers are those who prepare their own breakfasts in the morning, school, college and office goers. Their need is to save the time that is wasted on waiting for the butter to melt. The solutions would be drafted out of which the best one would be chosen. In this case, the self-heating knife is the best possible solution to the problem. The rough design of the knife will be made after which it would be introduced to the users for feedback. As per Thompson et al (2017), based on thefeedback and suggestions of the users, further changes could be made and final product can be designed and introduced in the market.

Process of Problem Solving through Design Thinking
In solving a business problem, the design thinking methodology of Google Design Sprints is very effective. It is a collaborative tool in which the contribution of the engineers, designers and businesspersons is involved. The engineers check the feasibility aspect of developing a product; the designers consider the desirability of it and the business person study the viability of the product (Chou, 2018).

Najafi Tavani in entrepreneurship assignment

(Source: Chou, 2018)

Inspiration and empathy lay the foundation of design thinking. The entrepreneurship ventures add value to their products by developing the empathy towards their users. While resolving the problem of the users of the self-heating butter knife, the designers need to be empathetic enough to understand their real problem and value it as a significant one. The empathy in business enables the entrepreneurs to attain sustainable success in business. The entrepreneurs gain insight for running their business in an optimal manner (Beckman, 2020). The entrepreneurs need to convey the empathy for the customers to the stakeholders, investors and employees so that they realise the interest and priority of the business.

Ethical behaviour
While designing any product, it is important to consider the ethical side of it. As the main focus of design thinking methodology is on making it human-centred, the designers try to the value the ethical aspect of it. By ethical consideration in design thinking methodology, one refers to moral behaviour involved in the designing of the product. The designers need to integrate the economic viability with the moral responsibilities. The product design should not violate the ethics (Henriksen, Richardsonand Mehta, 2017). The work ethics should also be followed between the engineers, designers and business persons. The human-centred design thinking methodology encourages designers to add values to the product innovation. The designers and business persons also need to consider the impact of the product on the society. The product should not lead to negative externalities and social costs.

It can be concluded from this report on entrepreneurship assignment, that design thinking methodology has great significance in business. The application of design thinking in business enables resolving many critical problems by reviewing them from the point of view of the customers or users. The human-centred approach makes the process of integration of product innovation and problem solving more effective in business. The self-heating knife is the product innovation here which resolves the problem of many users. The design thinking approach implemented in this case is the Google Design Sprint, which facilitates original thoughts, iteration and experimentation. The design thinking fosters sustainable success of the entrepreneurs in business. ?

Al-Ali, A.G. and Phaal, R., 2019, June. Design sprints for roadmapping an agile digital transformation. In 2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation (ICE/ITMC) (pp. 1-6).IEEE.

Beckman, S.L., 2020. To Frame or Reframe: Where Might Design Thinking Research Go Next?. Entrepreneurship assignment California Management Review, 62(2), pp.144-162.

Buhl, A., Schmidt-Keilich, M., Muster, V., Blazejewski, S., Schrader, U., Harrach, C., Schäfer, M. and Süßbauer, E., 2019. Design thinking for sustainability: Why and how design thinking can foster sustainability-oriented innovation development. Journal of cleaner production, 231, pp.1248-1257.

Çeviker-Ç?nar, G., Mura, G. and Demirba?-Kaplan, M., 2017. Design thinking: A new road map in business education. The Design Journal, 20(sup1), pp.S977-S987.

Chou, D.C., 2018. Applying design thinking method to social entrepreneurship project. Computer Standards & Interfaces, 55, pp.73-79.

deSáAraújo, C.M.M., Santos, I.M., Canedo, E.D. and de Araújo, A.P.F., 2019, July. Design Thinking Versus Design Sprint: A Comparative Study. In International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 291-306).Springer, Cham. Elia, G., Margherita, A. and Passiante, G., 2020. Digital entrepreneurship ecosystem: How digital technologies and collective intelligence are reshaping the entrepreneurial process. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 150, p.119791.

Elsbach, K.D. and Stigliani, I., 2018. Design thinking and organizational culture: A review and framework for future research. Journal of Management, 44(6), pp.2274-2306.

Gachago, D., Morkel, J., Hitge, L., Van Zyl, I. and Ivala, E., 2017. Developing eLearning champions: a design thinking approach. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 14(1), pp.1-14.

Henriksen, D., Richardson, C. and Mehta, R., 2017. Design thinking: A creative approach to educational problems of practice. Thinking skills and Creativity, 26, pp.140-153.

Matthews, J. and Wrigley, C., 2017. Design and design thinking in business and management higher education. Journal of Learning Design, 10(1), pp.41-54. Meisiek, S., Wad, L. and Zubrickaite, E., 2020.Design Thinking in the Business Studio.In Design Thinking in Higher Education (pp. 183-202).Springer, Singapore.

Micheli, P., Wilner, S.J., Bhatti, S.H., Mura, M. and Beverland, M.B., 2019. Doing design thinking: Conceptual review, synthesis, and research agenda. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 36(2), pp.124-148.

Naiman, L., 2019. Design thinking as a strategy for innovation. The European Business Review, June, https://www. europeanbusinessreview. com/designthinking-as-a-strategy-for-innovation.

Najafi-Tavani, S., Najafi-Tavani, Z., Naudé, P., Oghazi, P. and Zeynaloo, E., 2018. How collaborative innovation networks affect new product performance: Product innovation capability, process innovation capability, and absorptive capacity. Industrial marketing management, 73, pp.193-205. Oxman, R., 2017. Thinking difference: Theories and models of parametric design thinking. Design studies, 52, pp.4-39.

Thompson, C.F., Goldwasser, E., Stanford, J., Syverson, B. and Haley, K., 2017, May. Tweaking design thinking for strategic and tactical impact. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1303-1306).

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