“Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”- Tim Brown
Design Thinking is a method used by designers for problem solving and finding a desirable solution for the clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, its solution focused and action oriented towards creating a future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). By using Design Thinking, one can make decisions based on what the customers really want in the future, instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence. Due to the remarkable success rate of design-led companies, design has evolved beyond making objects. Organizations now want to learn how to think like designers, and apply design principles to the workplace itself.
Design thinking is at the core of effective strategy development and organizational change. It is extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown by:
- understanding the human needs involved,
- by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways,
- by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and
- by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.
The five stages of Design Thinking Process is elucidated below:
- Empathize: The first stage of design thinking process is to gain empathic understanding of the problem, which one is trying to solve. This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment to have a deeper personal understanding of the issues to be resolved.
- Define (the problem): During this stage, information which has been created and gathered during the first stage will be put together to analyze and synthesize, to define the core problems of the company. The define stage will help the designers to gather great ideas to establish features, functions and any other elements that will allow them to solve the problem or at the very least will allow the users to resolve the issues themselves with minimum difficulty.
- Ideate: During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to generate ideas based on:
- Understanding of the users and their needs in the Empathize stage,
- Analysis and Synthesis of ones’ observations in the Define stage,
- Finally coming up with a human-centered problem statement.
Now the designers can find out of the box and innovative solutions to the problem statement. There are hundreds of Ideation techniques such as Brainstorm, Brainwrite, Worst Possible Idea, and SCAMPER. Brainstorm and Worst Possible Idea sessions are typically used to stimulate free thinking and to expand the problem space. It is important to get as many ideas or solutions as possible at the beginning of the Ideation phase. Ideation techniques should be picked up by the end of the Ideation phase to help in investigating and testing the ideas to find the best way to either solve a problem, or provide the elements required to circumvent the problem.
- Prototype: The design team will:
- produce a variety of inexpensive, scaled down versions of the product/solutions or modifications of specific features in a product or solution. This helps them investigate the problem solutions generated in the Design stage.
- Prototypes may be shared and tested within the team itself, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the design team. This is an experimental phase, and the aim is to identify the best possible solution for each of the problems identified during the first three stages.
- The solutions are implemented within the prototypes and, one-by-one, they are investigated and either accepted, improved and re-examined, or rejected based on the users’ experiences.
- By the end of this stage, the design team will have a clarity on the constraints inherent in the product or solution, and have a better perspective of how real users would behave, think, and feel when interacting with the product.
5. Test: Designers will rigorously test the complete product/solution during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model, but in an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems. During this phase too alterations and refinements are made to rule out the problem and find the solutions by deriving a deep understanding of the product or solutions.
Design thinking is a recurring process which employs unique and creative techniques that yield guaranteed results. Extraordinary results that leapfrog the expected could occur in some cases.
According to David M. Kelley “The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the people you are trying to design for. Leadership is the same thing-building empathy for the people that you are entrusted to help.”
Dam, R., & Siang, T. (n.d.). 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process. Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/5-stages-in-the-design-thinking-process
Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://www.creativityatwork.com/design-thinking-strategy-for-innovation/
Staff, F. C. (2015, April 05). Design Thinking… What is That? Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://www.fastcompany.com/919258/design-thinking-what