Design Thinking is a design methodology that requires a particular mindset, process of framing and way of doing.
Design is everywhere. It comes in many forms and outcomes. Therefore, the outcome of the design process could be a car, a chair, a catalog, an interior space, a recreational park and in many cases today a new App of some sorts. Nevertheless, one thing that all these ‘solutions’ have in common is that they satisfy a human need.
For example, let’s say a person needs to get from A to B, one of the potential transport solutions could be a car. This need may also carry different value depending on a particular person’s economic situation. For instance, Sally needs a way to get to work because she lives almost 20km away. Sally puts value on using a car as the choice of getting there because she feels unsafe on public transport, she also likes the comfort of a car and she can afford to spend the money on petrol every month. Joyce on the other can’t afford to have her own car and has to travel the same distance as Sally. Joyce’s only option, is to catch the bus and has less flexibility because of the regular bus schedules.
In both these cases, the users have specific needs that are defined by their context and the context of the need is shaped by economic variants. Therefore, Design Thinkers translate these needs into preferred solutions that speaks to a particular persona.
The approach to create these value propositions for that persona is in essence Human-centered Design (HCD), a fundamental principle of Design.
Don’t worry Design Thinking is not that simple and this explanation might not be that clear to how it brings value to different companies and organisations. What we do know about Design Thinking today, is that is has a much more structured approach and has more definite guiding principles than previously known.
What is now theorised as Design Thinking (with capitals), is an intentional Design Thinking methodology. The methodology follows a logical design process that every designer follows, from turning problems into ideas and ideas into solutions. Furthermore, it offers us a collaborative approach to understanding the context of challenge and observing key behavioral insights, to framing those insights in order to be able to develop a new idea that addresses a relevant need, such as discussed above. New features are developed into a prototype that can be tested before implementation and big investments are made.
Therefore, at a meta level Design thinking requires three distinctive parts. These parts are research, Ideation and Prototyping.
Challenge your assumptions; understand people and context
Ideas are the cornerstone of creativity. But how do we come to them and how do we make sure they are original or relevant
Explore, iterate, build and evolve ideas in reality to their context
In the image below, we also explore the Hasso Plattner dschool model and the main objectives of these phases below.
This model is meant to give designers and teams a guideline of where they are in the design process and the aim of the phase. There are also various Design Thinking models. Some may be better for certain things than others. However, the logic of Design Thinking is based on two prerequisite elements, which are between, problem-solution or need-idea.
There are also relationships between phases which we describe below.
Visualisation and frameworks used for communication are useful thinking tools to help us think through the Design Thinking process. The mental model helps us with a representation and gives us a logical understanding of the links among various concepts, ideas, rules and inferences. Below are the basis of some Design Thinking methods to facilitate a common understanding between teams, creators and investors.
Sketching mind maps to initially flesh out and get an understanding of problem or solution spaces.
Making sense of different ideas by grouping sticky notes into distinct themes, creating an affinity diagram
Understanding the elements of an idea and its constituent elements by modelling it through Service Blueprints or customer journey maps
Understanding crucial high and low points through customer journey maps
Using a Business Model Canvas or a Lean Canvas as a support tool to understand, systematically map, coordinate, and evaluate different aspects of a novel business idea
Plotting points of differentiation, strengths and weaknesses
to fail early and as often as possible
to encourage wild ideas even if they seem crazy
to be visual and frame your thinking
to build onto other ideas and merge opposing ideas
to defer judgement based on your beliefs or rituals
to go for quantity and limitations based on absurdity
to stay focused on the topic, listen and let everyone have their chance to speak
to build empathy and imagine being in the shoes of the users shoes
In Design Thinking, empathy is, as explained in IDEO’s Human-Centred Design Toolkit, a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for”. It involves learning about the difficulties people face, as well as uncovering their latent needs and desires in order to explain their behaviours. To do so, we need to have an understanding of the people’s environment, as well as their roles in and interactions with their environment.
– Interaction design foundation
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