Design thinking is a “proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results.” (Fast Company)
Tim Brown has popularized this process to approach problem-solving by focusing on the users, which employs rapid prototyping, and it refines the solution through many iterations. “Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes — and even strategy,” according to Tim Brown.
Designers do not exclusively use design thinking; all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have used this process.
To understand the design thinking process, you need to understand the mindset of a design thinker. The five most important characteristics are:
Empathy: Immerse yourself in the environment and experience of another. Taking a “people first” approach, they notice things that others do not and use their insights to inspire innovation.
Integrative Thinking: The ability to generate a creative resolution while considering opposing ideas, instead of choosing one at the other’s expense. The solution contains elements of the opposing views but is superior to each.
Optimism: No matter how challenging the problem is, they believe that one potential solution is better than the existing alternatives.
Experimentalism: An approach that says incremental tweaks to design don’t dramatically increase a product’s value. Design thinkers need to ask questions and explore constraints in creative ways that path entirely new directions.
Collaboration: Working together with other design thinkers creates a space where individuals can grow and learn together. The best design thinkers don’t just work alongside other disciplines; many designers have experience in more than one field themselves.
After understanding the mindset comes the actual design thinking process. Which consists of six steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, and Assess.
Empathize: Conduct interviews, uncover emotions, and seek stories.
Define: Reframe and create human-centric problem statements, identify meaningful surprises and tensions, and infer insights.
Ideate: Brainstorm radical ideas, build on others’ ideas, and suspend judgments.
Prototype: Create lo-res objects and experiences, role-play to understand the context and key features, and quickly build to think and learn.
Test: Test with customers to refine the solution, gather data, gain more profound empathy, and embrace failure.
Asses: Guidelines for evaluating project work critically, openly giving and receiving feedback, and integrating feedback.
With the information about a design thinker’s mindset and understanding the steps that design thinkers go through, it is easier to understand how companies and individuals use this process to create solutions to problems.
Bank of America has implemented design thinking into its business. Bank of America has benefited from design thinking and partnered with design consultancy IDEO to understand how to get more people to open bank accounts. Using design thinking research, BoA and IDEO was able to come up with the Keep the Change program.
Bank of America is not the only company that uses design thinking to create a better business. Uber Eats, IBM, and Airbnb are businesses that have used design thinking to better themselves.
Design thinking is an excellent approach to solving problems in today’s environment. Being able to think like a designer can be challenging to pick up at first, but anyone can use it with practice.
Dam, Rikke Friis, and Teo Yu Siang. “What Is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular?” The Interaction Design Foundation, http://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular.
Maxey, Kyle. “Design Thinking – Experimentalism by KyleMaxey.” Engineering.com, http://www.engineering.com/story/design-thinking-experimentalism.
Staff, Fast Company. “Design Thinking… What Is That?” Fast Company, Fast Company, 5 Apr. 2015, http://www.fastcompany.com/919258/design-thinking-what.
Voltage Control. “8 Great Design Thinking Examples + Voltage Control.” Voltage Control, 4 Dec. 2020, voltagecontrol.com/blog/8-great-design-thinking-examples/#:~:text=Clean%20Team,toilets%20for%20Ghana’s%20urban%20poor.&text=Clean%20Team%20used%20design%20thinking,toilets%20for%20Ghana’s%20urban%20poor.
“What Is Integrative Thinking?- ARCHIVE – I-Think.” I, http://www.rotmanithink.ca/what-is-integrative-thinking#:~:text=Integrative%20Thinking%20is%E2%80%A6,but%20is%20superior%20to%20each.%E2%80%9D.