What is Design Thinking


Whether you are a developer, a designer, a business man, an even manager, any kind of client facing person or someone collaborating on a project across diversified team, At the end of the day, You are doing it for the users.

If you want to improve a piece of software all you have to do is watch people using it and see when they grimace, and then you can fix that.

If you are trying to improve and make progress, beginning with the end user will always help you focus on improvements that provide the most value. Because, what we are trying to achieve is for the sake of human needs and to make life easier and more enjoyable.

This concept we are about to explore has been around for decades, practiced, implemented and proven even before the days, technology out-ruled the analogous world.

Introduction - The Human Centered Design

Design Thinking is a method for practical and creative problem solving that focuses on peoples needs and creatively discovering the best solution to meet those needs.

When you understand your users — and then design from their perspective — not only will you arrive at unexpected answers, but you’ll come up with ideas that they’ll embrace.

It is a technique that evolved from various design domains involving design cognition and design activity such as Architecture, Engineering and Business.

If you were to visualize the underlying key concepts of design thinking, this is what it would probably look like –

Design Thinking
5 Phases of Design Thinking

The first mention and the idea of Design thinking goes back to the 1950s when creativity techniques started to rise. To be more precise, It started from a book written by John E Arnold in ‘Creative Engineering‘ (1959).

But there are mentions that the basic concepts behind design thinking had been practices since the early days from Railway constructions to health care, industries, hardware and home appliances etc.

“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, CEO of IDEO

How It is Done ?

Design Thinking is based upon the initial phases of design that IDEO published which later on became its foundation. It brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.

Different organizations implementing design thinking have different adaptation of the underlying concepts. However, the base concepts remain the same. Lets see what they are –

  • Empathy

    Find and understand your real users ( What they think, how they feel, what they see, what they say and what they do)

  • Define

    Understand your users problem ( Define those problems that you are going to solve)

  • Ideate

    Find lots and lots of ideas that will probably solve those problems.

  • Rapid Prototyping

    Create prototypes of solutions based on the ideas that can solve those problems.

  • Test

    Test those prototypes on real users and see if it solves those problems, gain feedbacks from them.

Design thinking is a non linear, iterative process consisting of the above concepts where there is continuous loop of re-invention, prototyping, trials and feedbacks.

Why is it important ?

  • It helps organizations learn faster
  • It generates revolutionary solutions which are not just incremental.
  • It suppresses the risks associated with launching new ideas.
  • It helps identify hidden problems which are otherwise not revealed

Application Areas

  • Product, Services and Experience Design
  • Healthcare
  • Business and Leadership
  • Organizational Change

References And Learning Places

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