Design thinking, as a concept, has been slowly evolving and getting more traction over the past decade. One popular definition is that design thinking, is thinking as a designer would. Which is about as vague as a definition can be. A much better definition comes from Tim Brown of IDEO: “Design thinking is a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” Basically this means that a person or organisation is constantly seeking a fruitful balance between reliability and viability, between art and science, between analytics and intuition, etcetera. Using the most crucial tool every designer utilises; abductive reasoning.
“In abductive reasoning, we try to presume a fact by using supporting facts. Example: Some people cannot see (fact). Tim constantly walks into objects (supporting fact). Tim cannot see (abduction).”
Simplified, the design thinking process is a user-centered one, using an arsenal of tools and methods to solve a problem. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused, and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination. A typical process for design thinking is as the following;
Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing. Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.
Process the findings in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.
Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.
Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.
Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view
This same process is illustrated in the way I work to design & develop a website, but the same process is walked through when designing a brand identity, or a flyer, or a mobile app, etcetera, etcetera. While learning to be a good designer takes years, non-designers can learn to think like a designer and apply these skills to leadership and innovation. If you have a problem that design & technology can solve, please don’t hesitate to contact me for some food for thought.
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
— Steve Jobs