What Is Design Thinking?

The Marketing Team
Sep 4, 2019 12:27:24 PM

Let’s say you’re trying to solve a problem, like workplace safety, for example. Trouble is, that problem isn’t as common sense as you think it is, and your solutions won’t work if you don’t think about the people involved.

This is where design thinking can help.

Design thinking encourages you to step out of the box and think about people, rather than abstract concepts. Here’s what it is, how it works, and what you need to make the method work.

What Is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is an innovative approach to problem-solving with a human focus.

Basically, design thinking encourages you to focus on the user, redefine problems, and challenge your assumptions. It revolves around the people for whom you’re designing a solution.

In its most effective form, design is a process for solving problems. That’s exactly what design thinking encourages.

Design thinking is most effective in tackling ill-defined or unknown problems, as it allows you to reframe the problem in human-centric ways to come up with solutions.

The Three Pillars of Design Thinking

There are three essential pillars of design thinking:

  1. Empathy
  2. Ideation
  3. Experimentation

With empathy, you can understand the needs of those you’re designing for, which is essential if you want to design something that will actually help.

Ideation is exactly what it sounds like – generating lots of ideas. Brainstorming is the most commonly cited example of ideation, but there are many others you can try.

Then, there’s experimentation, in which you test run all of those ideas you came up with.

When properly combined, these pillars of design thinking allow you to get in touch with the audience you’re trying to serve, come up with ideas that genuinely serve them, and test those ideas to make sure that they actually work.

The Five Stages

Keeping those three pillars in mind will help you understand the five stages of design thinking:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define the problem
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

The first stage is empathy, or taking an empathetic approach to the problem you’re trying to solve. The key is to step out of your own perspective and into someone else’s.

To do this, consult with experts to dig deep into your area of concern. Take some time to really look into the problem you’re trying to solve. Keep in mind that the problem you address may not be the original problem you sought to investigate.

If you’ve done the first stage properly, you’re ready to move on to step two, defining the problem.

This is when you analyze all of the information collected in the first stage and turn it into a clearly defined, solvable problem. The easiest way to do this is to craft a problem statement. But remember to keep it focused on people, not your company.

So, “Our company wants to improve our food product sales numbers to senior citizens by…” is a no-go, but, “Senior citizens have key dietary needs in order to thrive,” is good.

Once you know the problem, you’re ready to ideate. This is when your team can branch out and come up with innovative solutions to the issue you’ve identified.

After honing in on the best ideas, you can move on to stage four and start creating prototypes. You’ll need them for the final stage (testing). You can distribute the prototypes among your team or do a trial with your target audience.

Either way, take the time to really assess your product and whether it’s solving what it needs to solve.

Building a Smarter Business Model

We know that your company needs smarter solutions. Design thinking is just one small way to improve your approach.

For more ideas to make your company stronger, check out our blog for more useful tips. And if you want to find out more about our available solutions, use our contact page to get in touch.

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