Design beyond graphics.

Design Thinking is for everyone.

Creativity, imagination and empathy have not always been seen as core skills for business. But now more than ever, the power of design thinking is leading the way for solving human problems in a human way.

Everyone can be a designer. It’s not just for people who are good at drawing or painting. Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘design’ as: ‘to make or draw plans for something.’ When we apply a designer’s approach to problem solving we call this ‘design thinking’. Whether it’s to tackle a social problem, design a product or develop a business strategy, design thinking can help teams to see things differently, collaborate and achieve better results.

It’s about being empathetic, (check out this great explanation from Brene Brown) listening to understand and creating solutions that combine logic with imagination. A culture of design thinking allows space to see things from other people’s point of view, freedom to experiment, (read freedom to fail) and an emphasis on testing and refining. This is where true transformation can happen.

What is design thinking?

I think this quote says it perfectly:

“Design thinking begins with skills designers have learned over many decades in their quest to match human needs with available technical resources within the practical constraints of business. By integrating what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable, designers have been able to create the products we enjoy today. Design thinking takes the next step, which is to put these tools into the hands of people who may have never thought of themselves as designers and apply them to a vastly greater range of problems.”
– Tim Brown, Change by Design, Introduction

Where does ‘design thinking’ come from?

Design thinking is not new. Great innovators throughout the ages have approached problems from design perspective. It’s been only recently however, that the Design Thinking methodology has been brought into a broader discussion with business and government and those who wouldn’t identify themselves as designers.

The Institute of Design at Stanford university (d.school) has led the way with their proposed five stage Design Thinking model and how it can help to solve all kinds of problems.

Key stages of Design Thinking

Here’s a quick run down of the process of Design Thinking. This is the process I take when developing a brand strategy, or a marketing strategy or any project for that matter.  You can learn more at IDEO and Stanford d.school

Empathize

Using empathy to view the world as your customers do, in the context of what you are trying to solve. It’s about exploring, listening, capturing insights, thoughts and feelings.

Define

This is where you capture the essence of the problem and get to the bottom of what is actually required. It’s about clarity, focus and actionable insights.

Ideate

This is where the magic happens – where you combine your learnings, logic and analysis with your imagination. You first need to push past the obvious answers and think creatively to come up solutions that meet the customer need and are achievable within the constraints and context.

Prototype

This is about putting legs on your ideas and experimenting with them and potential customers.

Test

This is about putting your prototype into realistic scenarios to gain insight and feedback on how well the idea solves the issue. Using the learning, the process can be repeated.

Design Thinking is for everyone

Another of my favourite coined terms is ‘User Experience’ coined by Don Norman, who has this to say about Design Thinking:

 “…the more I pondered the nature of design and reflected on my recent encounters with engineers, business people and others who blindly solved the problems they thought they were facing without question or further study, I realized that these people could benefit from a good dose of design thinking. Designers have developed a number of techniques to avoid being captured by too facile a solution. They take the original problem as a suggestion, not as a final statement, then think broadly about what the real issues underlying this problem statement might really be (for example by using the “Five Whys” approach to get at root causes). Most important of all, is that the process is iterative and expansive. Designers resist the temptation to jump immediately to a solution to the stated problem. Instead, they first spend time determining what the basic, fundamental (root) issue is that needs to be addressed. They don’t try to search for a solution until they have determined the real problem, and even then, instead of solving that problem, they stop to consider a wide range of potential solutions. Only then will they finally converge upon their proposal. This process is called “Design Thinking.”

– Don Norman, Rethinking Design Thinking

When you apply design thinking to all levels of business, organisations and governments you can transform and create new futures for society and workplaces.

Let’s design for a better world.

More reading:

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

https://www.ideou.com/pages/design-thinking

https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyjoffrion/2018/07/09/the-designer-who-changed-airbnbs-entire-strategy