Design Thinking Crash Course

Prototype of the Mug as a gift

What You Need To Know

Within the design community Design Thinking are buzz words. First of all, design thinking is a design methodology. The design thinking process is used to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be apparent right away. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.

The Design Thinking Process - How does it work? - MAQE - Insights
5 Phases of the Design Thinking Process

There are five-phases in the design thinking process. These phases are:

  • Empathize – with your users
  • Define – your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights
  • Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions
  • Prototype – to start creating solutions
  • Test – solutions

It is important to understand that these five-phases are not always sequential. They don’t have to follow a specific order and can often occur in parallel and repeat iteratively. You should not look at these phases as a step-by-step process, you should look at it as an overview of phases that contribute to an innovative project.

Crash Course Experience

This week, I took part in a Crash Course for Design Thinking from the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stamford University. This course provides an opportunity to go through the entire design thinking process in one hour. This is an interactive activity where you follow the steps of the process in real-time. The experience is fast-paced, fun, and easy, so anyone can enjoy and perform the tasks and do the process. The course consisted of a video that you can follow and a worksheet. 

My partner and Zoom call helped make the entire experience more comfortable and casual. We jumped right into the process. Our objective is to redesign the gift-giving experience for our partners. To do that, we needed to ask each other about the last time we gave gifts to people and what our thought process was.

As we were working, the deeper into the worksheet we got, the harder it became. We ultimately did finish the worksheet, but not without a few hiccups. The activity itself was enjoyable and fun; it took all of your attention, so there wasn’t much idle chit chat during the different stages. We went through each round and asked each other questions or drew our sketches when prompted. While drawing, there was little to no communication because we were focused on drawing legible sketches. 

Interviewing one another was easy; I learned a lot about my partner through this project. After the interview portion is over, we had to move on to our sketches, and I felt that was the hardest part. Creating drawings for someone you don’t know or you have minimal information about is difficult. This is why during the sketching, I was asking my partner questions, and he was asking me questions to understand more about what our gift-getting people are like. 

After the sketching and the feedback, we finished the worksheet, but I was a little wary because I wasn’t sure if we were doing it correctly. I know that there are no “correct” answers with assignments like this, but it’s always the goal as a student. I overcame this feeling by looking at other examples and discussing them with my partner, and we decided that what we came up with was good. 

After completing this crash course, my partner and I discussed our findings, and we gave each other feedback. I believe that both of our solutions were clever and feasible. 

Overall, I thought this activity was super fun and exciting. It felt good to talk through all of the steps with my partner, and this activity was such an easy way to introduce non-design thinking individuals into the process. This crash course went over all of the different steps and made them simple for anyone to understand. I would highly recommend this crash course for anyone who wants to understand design thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed myself doing this project. 

Below is the completed worksheet:

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