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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.
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
- Empathize – with the users
- Define – user’s needs and desires around the problem or design
- Ideate – examine users’ assumptions to creative solutions
- Prototype – to develop solutions
- 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.
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 is a process for creative problem solving
at Work: Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation
Comes of Age
David Kelley on “Design Thinking” (includes history of the process)
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
For the Category of Innovation:
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