Why Amazon, Facebook, Google, BMW, and other leading brands have adopted the Design Thinking method, and why this framework is being taught at the leading universities around the world like d.school, Stanford, Harvard, etc.? In this article, I will tell you what Design thinking is and why it is so popular.
While there are variants of the process, “Design Thinking” has come to be defined as the combination of the following: empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to the problem context.
Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.
According to Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, the goal of Design Thinking is “matching people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and viable as a business strategy.”
It’s a user-centered design methodology that we can use to guide us through our research process — we can apply its methods to analyze complex problems and come up with innovative solutions.
What methods do we use in Design Thinking?
The methods for Design Thinking can include interviewing, creating user profiles, looking at other existing solutions, creating prototypes & storyboards, asking questions like “Why?” and “What?”, and situational analysis.
Design Thinking is, in essence, a human-centered design ethos. To match people’s needs, we must first empathize with them. Empathy, in this context, can be defined as intellectual identification with our users, and a shared understanding of their feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and needs.
Empathy is the ability to blur the line between self and others. It is the understanding of, and compassion for, your end-users’ mindset. Having empathy helps us to solve design problems because we understand our users’ needs, and can, therefore, develop insights that seek to address those needs.
Armed with a greater understanding of our users, we will learn how to generate ideas, share, grow them, and — ultimately — put them to the test through a prototype-driven process for innovation so that we can learn from our mistakes and improve our solutions.
Prototyping is an evaluative process that allows us to gather valuable user feedback and insights. It has been referred to as a “fail-fast” attitude since it gives us access to users and their responses so that we can quickly identify, build, and test our way to success.
- Empathise — with your users
- Define — your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights
- Ideate — by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions
- Prototype — to start creating solutions
- Test — solutions
The question of ‘Why?’ is the most important research and inquiry pattern that runs through the entire Design Thinking methodology. We ask ourselves ‘Why?’ as innovators, problem solvers, and designers; we ask our target audience ‘Why?’ over and over and over, during all stages of development.
Understanding the ‘Why?’ means we can empathize with all the problems, difficulties, and needs, and thereby create a product that answers the key questions and satisfies the motivations of our users.