Design Thinking is a strategy for approaching problem-solving. It is not a solution in itself, but rather a process and set of thinking tools for gaining insight into a problem, identifying possible solutions, and developing those solutions through trial and error.
The steps in Design Thinking are inspired by how professional designers approach their work. In this sense, Design Thinking is just design, but applied to a wider range of contexts than what comes to mind when we usually think of design. Design Thinking is simply the application of design principles to any kind of problem that requires a creative solution.
The steps in the Design Thinking process are:
- Empathize with the user in order to gain non-obvious insights into the problem
- Define the problem you’re trying to solve
- Ideate potential solutions based on user insights and the problem definition
- Rapidly Prototype to communicate solutions
- Test solutions to gain feedback to iterate and improve
Process of Design Thinking
Importantly, the steps of the Design Thinking process aren’t necessarily meant to be moved through linearly. It’s often useful to cycle through the process, going back and forth and repeating steps as necessary to arrive at the optimal solution.
Design Thinking is a philosophy for problem-solving, and it works best in a cultural environment that is empathetic, collaborative, open-minded, and in which there is a strong bias towards visual communication, action, and optimism. Design Thinking also works best in an environment where feedback and failure are not only tolerated, but encouraged.
In this video, Karl Ulrich will explain what Design Thinking is and the organizational cultural norms that foster it.