What in the world is Design Thinking?

When we think about ‘Design Thinking’, the first word that comes to mind is human. For example, what’s the human need behind that business need? Design thinking encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for and leads to human-centered products, services, and internal processes. The core of design thinking is getting actionable and knowing your questions. It’s about simple mindset shifts or ways of asking questions differently—a new way to look at problems.

Why Is Design Thinking Important?

  • It reduces the risk associated with launching new ideas.
  • It helps organizations learn faster.
  • It generates solutions that are innovative, not just incremental.

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1. Empathise

The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are 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 so you can gain a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved.

2. Define (the Problem)

During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathise stage. This is where you will analyse your observations and synthesise them in order to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point. You should seek to define the problem as a problem statement in a human-centred manner.

3. Ideate

During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs in the Empathise stage, and you’ve analysed and synthesised your observations in the Define stage, and ended up with a human-centered problem statement.

4. Prototype

The design team will now produce a number of inexpensive, scaled down versions of the product or specific features found within the product, so they can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous 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.

5. Test

Designers or evaluators rigorously test the complete product using the best solutions identified 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 and inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathise. Even during this phase, alterations and refinements are made in order to rule out problem solutions and derive as deep an understanding of the product and its users as possible.

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