What is Design Thinking?

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    Sections of This Topic Include

    Introduction to Design Thinking
    About Design Thinking
    Basic Overviews of Design Thinking
    A Little More In-Depth
    Some Applications

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    Introduction to Design Thinking

    Copyright, Chuck Appleby,
    Certified Design Thinking Facilitator

    I have been practicing design thinking for many years — helping organizations,
    developing new products, servicing customer experiences, and strategizing for
    organizations …and for new cultures. I was attracted to it for many reasons.
    First and foremost, it is made up of many disciplines: industrial design, graphic
    design, anthropology, marketing, social psychology, and behavioral economics.

    As such it is an inclusive discipline — no one group of experts “owns
    it.” It embraces a myriad of approaches and avoids the claim that there
    is one right way to do it. It thrives in an environment of both structure and
    freedom to discover. It recognizes two opposable minds: the logical and the
    creative. It values both fact and emotion. It is a key contributor to the rapid
    growth of entrepreneurial culture both within and outside of organizations.
    It has great promises in keeping those who embrace it at the vanguard of sustainable

    Its tools are far less important than the mindsets and behaviors that it values:
    the bias for action and experimentation, the acceptance of failure as an inevitable
    part of learning and innovation, the value of diversity and fresh eyes, and
    the importance of first clarifying the design challenge before marching off
    to develop solutions.

    At its heart is empathy — experiencing and understanding the world from another’s
    point of view. Design thinking teaches its users the importance of powerful
    questions, deep listening, and reflection. Empathy allows design thinking practitioners
    to gain a much deeper insight into customer needs — both emotional needs as
    well as technical needs.

    To be clear, design thinking is not the end-all and be-all of sustainable innovation.
    Entrepreneurs and innovators must still use other disciplines. On the front
    end, disciplines like action learning are used to frame the right challenge.
    At the back end, disciplines such as social psychology provide methods and tools
    to help gain buy-in for new ideas.

    About Design Thinking

    Design thinking is an innovative way to solve problems, for example, identifying
    relevant and realistic strategies, or developing a new product or service. It
    is unique in that it is a hands-on approach that deeply involves the people
    (the users) who are affected by the problem. It includes five highly integrated

    1. Empathize – with the users
    2. Define – user’s needs and desires around the problem or design
    3. Ideate – examine users’ assumptions to creative solutions
    4. Prototype – to develop solutions
    5. Test – the solutions to verify their usefulness

    The phases are not necessarily sequential, and usually are iterative. Over
    time, they can produce a critical and creative way of thinking as they progress
    through the phases and use Design Thinking in other applications.

    The process is carried out with a Design Team comprised of people who are highly
    interested in the problem. Ideally, the Team includes people from a variety
    of different perspectives on the problem. A trained Design Thinking facilitator
    should train the members on the process, and also guide members to clarify how
    best to work with each other.

    Practitioners use a variety of tools, depending on the phase of addressing
    the problem and also o the on the nature and needs of the users. Together, they
    form a Design Team.

    Users are closely observed in how they talk about addressing the problem, for
    example, how they use the prototypes and what they encounter. The process includes
    what has been described as a holistic approach to learning from the users. For
    example, it goes beyond noticing their behaviors and includes noticing their
    apparent feelings, such as what seemed to excite them, frustrate them, and cause
    them to interact less or more.

    Iterative experiences with the problem help participants to clarify its causes
    from its symptoms, boundaries,

    A hallmark of Design Thinking is that it often reveals how we are stuck in
    our thinking about the situation and it challenges us to see situations outside
    the box – in a different way.

    Basic Overviews of Design Thinking

    Thinking Meets ADDIE
    is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular?
    Is Design Thinking and Design Thinking Process?
    is Design Thinking? (And What Are The 5 Stages Associated With it?)
    Design Thinking Became a Buzzword (used in schools)
    Thinking (references 16-minute TED talk)
    Thinking Process 101
    Design thinking
    Design Thinking —
    Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving
    at Work: Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation
    Design Thinking
    Comes of Age
    David Kelley on “Design Thinking” (includes history of the process)

    Design Thinking is Bull$it

    A Little More In-Depth

    to Design Thinking
    Introduction to Design Thinking — Process Guide
    Virtual Crash Course on Design Thinking
    Stages in the Design Thinking Process
    Thinking: Select the Right Team Members and Start Facilitating
    Design Thinking is failing and what we should be doing differently

    Some Applications

    Design Thinking Success Stories
    Examples of Design Thinking

    Case Studies (in
    Design Thinking)
    Innovation Brief (links to numerous related articles)

    For the Category of Innovation:

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