Design Thinking: A Human-Centric Framework for Problem Solving

Aug 20, 2020 / by Truman Esmond

Design Thinking is a practical and creative approach to problem solving, used in industries and organizations searching for new, customer-centric ways to enhance the customer experience. Design Thinking aims to better understand consumers' needs and formulate an innovative solution for them. When utilized properly, this framework allows organizations to create faster, more profitable innovations at a more efficient rate. At AAIS, Design Thinking helps formulate innovative insurance solutions, such as the openIDL distributed ledger technology for regulatory reporting in 2018.

Design Thinking has a person-centered framework consisting of four key steps: understand, explore, prototype, and evaluate. It goes beyond the wants of a company and focuses on users’ experiences, empathizing with them.

Understanding is central to design thinking, because to fulfil the needs of users, companies must fully understand who their audience is and the issues they’re experiencing. For openIDL, it was important to understand the role of each stakeholder in the regulatory reporting process – regulators, carriers, and statistical reporting agents like AAIS. We involved stakeholders from each user group from the start, learning their processes to make sure openIDL was addressing their goals appropriately.

Empathy aids in the process, for when we look at issues from a human lens, we get a better view of what needs to be done. Once a company understands, they move to the second step of Design Thinking, Exploring. Exploring involves collaboration among designers, brainstorming all the solutions and features they can think of. Once a list is created, designers narrow the options down to the most feasible options. Once the regulatory reporting process was understood, the creators of openIDL turned to empathy…working closely with each stakeholder to understand the pain points and areas of frustration at every interaction. Asking ‘why’ is important in this phase, to help product designers understand the root cause of issues and how those issues make users feel. Design Thinking methodology has proven that when product designers build a true sense of empathy for the end user, the product is more iterative and easier to use.

In phase three,Prototype, designers create basic models of solutions, seeking feedback and insight from users. During this process, the best solution is often made clear. openIDL’s concepts can be complex but are solving a simple problem – how to streamline statistical reporting so that regulatory data calls are easy, secure, streamlined and that the data collected answers the right questions. As the team developed openIDL, they kept the key goals of the system in mind – security, scalability, immutability and data analysis functionality. The creators found that distributed ledger technology was the best answer because it provided a safe network for data input and ingestion, ensuring that sensitive and valuable claims data would remain secure but available to answer data call questions. Without using Design Thinking to build understanding and empathy, the team might not have been as focused on this modern solution uniquely built to solve a problem specific to the P&C industry.

The last step, Evaluate, requires designers to look back upon their work, identifying anything they must correct or redo. If satisfied, they can continue developing the chosen solution. openIDL is continually being refined and updated in response to changing market and consumer needs. Our Auto, Flood and Homeowners working groups show us how openIDL can be extended to solve problems unique to each field. We know our work with openIDL isn’t done, and Design Thinking has shown us how to continue to enhance the tool.

Customer-focused design solutions are of great importance to AAIS. As a company that tailors solutions to the needs of our member companies, we want to ensure that we are providing solutions to the best of our ability. Design Thinking has helped AAIS to do just that.

The data collection process is long, and many methods are outdated, resulting in data that is years old – not providing an accurate view of the market. Currently, carriers dedicate large departments to collect and report data. Despite this, the process is time-consuming and inefficient. The openIDL acts as a solution to these challenges by streamlining the data collection process and increasing efficiency.

Design Thinking has been of excellent service to AAIS, helping it emerge as a leader in distributed ledger technology. The methodology will continue to help AAIS throughout future iterations, for the importance of the customer transcends time. After experiencing the immense benefits of Design Thinking, AAIS predicts a bright future ahead of the insurance industry.

Tags: Community, Issues & Trends, Insurtech, IoT, Working in Insurance, P&C Insurers, Innovation, Design Thinking, AAIS News & Views, AAIS Insights, Executive

Truman Esmond

Written by Truman Esmond

VP of Solutions and Partnerships - Truman leads AAIS’s Solutions and Partnerships, a business unit responsible for integrating the traditional advisory offerings and infrastructure of AAIS, together with advanced insurance technologies, and technical support for online product delivery. He leads the development and deployment of openIDL. Truman came to AAIS in 2012 from Red Door Interactive, a firm that specializes in strategy and development of marketing communications campaigns and solutions across digital and traditional media.

Design Thinking goes beyond the wants of a company and focuses on users’ experiences, empathizing with them.

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