Experienced loss prevention professionals are used to a certain process of developing solutions to mitigate loss—we look at the tools we already have and try to come up with new ways to use them. However, this is not the future of innovation anywhere, let alone for the rapidly evolving landscape of retail. Loss prevention and asset protection are complex fields that require a nuanced understanding of clients’ problems in order to develop effective solutions.
This is why CONTROLTEK uses a human-centered design thinking approach to develop solutions for our clients. Design thinking is a process that starts with the people we are designing for and ends with new solutions tailor-made to help solve their problem. Design thinking differs from traditional loss prevention solution development because it emphasizes understanding the user, challenging preconceived notions, and redefining problems in order to come up with different strategies that might not have been obvious at first.
Design Thinking in Loss Prevention and Asset Protection
The most important feature of the design thinking process is that it is iterative and nonlinear. This means that instead of following a step-by-step guide with little room for adaptation, we often find ourselves going back to certain stages of the process to reevaluate what we thought we already knew. Unlike the more traditional method of critical thinking, which focuses on breaking down a problem, design thinking looks at building ideas up. This is because a design mindset is not problem-focused—it is solution-focused and action-oriented.
“Our engineers, designers, and technology experts use the CONTROLTEK method of design thinking to partner with our clients to develop unique solutions for their specific challenges,” explained Tom Meehan, CFI, chief strategy officer at CONTROLTEK. “By testing and refining our ideas, we don’t miss an out-of-the-box idea that could be the perfect solution.”
Shifting gears like this can be a challenging exercise for those in LP and AP who are used to attacking the problem instead of imagining the solution. However, the design thinking process is actually quite simple and most likely very familiar to you already.
The CONTROLTEK Method of Design Thinking
Design thinking begins with understanding the problem, so we can gain insight about the client and define the problem. In this stage, we gather information and set aside our own assumptions about our client’s challenges in order to truly understand their unique situation and needs.
The second stage of the design thinking process is ideating to generate as many ideas as possible. The CONTROLTEK method encourages us and our clients to think outside the box and challenge each other to view the problem in different ways, inspiring true innovation. In the ideation phase, we come up with anything from little suggestions to unusual brainstorms that we can prototype in the following stage.
The third stage is rapid prototyping. We take what we learned from the ideation stage and quickly develop a prototype that our client can test in their stores as soon as possible. By speeding up the prototyping process, we can get results more quickly and implement that feedback into a new prototype the client can test again, so we can get a better idea of the problem and its solution.
The final stage is implementing the solution. Since design thinking is iterative, we often find ourselves using the results from the implementation stage to learn more about our clients, redefine the problem, or create new ideas and prototypes.
Design Thinking in Practice: Unique Solutions for Unique Retailers
Recently, Tom Meehan, CFI and Kim Scott, director of marketing at CONTROLTEK, facilitated a workshop with Sally Beauty’s asset protection team through our method of design thinking in LP and AP. By using our design thinking approach and brainstorming with their team, we were able to push them out of their comfort zone and dive deeper into some of their challenges with shrink. The workshop was designed for their team to learn the understanding and ideating phases of design thinking, so they could come up with as many ideas as possible and start rapid prototyping solutions for their loss prevention needs.
“The reverse brainstorm exercise really pushed our team out of our comfort zone to come up with new ideas,” said Jim Mires, vice president of loss prevention and safety at Sally Beauty. “At first we kept going back to the solutions we were already familiar with, but this exercise helped us to identify two areas where we can really focus our attention and think of new solutions.”
“I couldn’t be more pleased about what the workshop is going to do for our department in the future. Our team was pushed to think differently by going outside of the box and looking at the big picture,” said Jason Dixon, senior loss prevention manager at Sally Beauty. “It is the sharing and continued collaboration of these ideas that will help to innovate and move our industry forward.”
At CONTROLTEK we also believe that collaboration is the best way to move the industry forward while keeping up with the latest developments in technology. That’s why designing for people, with people, is at the forefront of our minds.
Earlier this year, CONTROLTEK invested in a new Innovation Experience Center, located at our headquarters in Bridgewater, NJ, that was designed as a collaborative space to give clients the opportunity to view and test our latest security solutions and connect directly with our experts. Just as you know the challenges facing your organization, we know how to collaborate with our clients to find the best solutions to help them.
“We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions,” said Rod Diplock, chief executive officer at CONTROLTEK. “We take the time to partner directly with our clients and understand their shrink problems in order to develop new solutions to the ever-evolving threats of shrink.”
The design thinking method is not about following a linear process—it asks you to change how you approach a shrink problem so that you can think up new ideas for LP and AP solutions. By approaching your challenges with shrink via expanding your focus to multiple solutions, you can find yourself producing many more different ideas that can result in the best solution for your problem, leading to innovation for yourselves and for our industry.