What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a process in which one attempts to transcend an initial level of understanding to tap into alternative strategies and solutions. it involves questioning previously-thought problems, assumptions, and implications. Then, approaching issues in human-centric way through brainstorm sessions, prototyping, and testing. This helps gain an intimate understanding of the clients needs and target users.


There are numerous variations of the Design Thinking measure being used today, which range from three to seven stages. But, they all stem from Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon in The Sciences of the Artificial in 1969. While they are largely all the same, we shall focused on the five-stage model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.

Author/Copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and Interaction Design Foundation. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Empathise – Connect with your clients

Define / Characterize – your clients’ needs, their concern, and your bits of knowledge

Ideate – by testing presumptions and making thoughts for creative arrangements

Prototype – to begin making arrangements

Test – test solutions

Design Sprint

GV, or google Ventures, came up with a similar idea and called it Design Sprint designed to offer a “shortcut to learning without building and launching.”

In five days, the Design Sprint will help you to:

1. Understand. Map out the problem and pick an important area to focus.

2. Ideate. Sketch out competing solutions on paper.

3. Decide. Make decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis.

4. Prototype. Hack together a realistic prototype.

5. Test. Get feedback from real live users.

design thinking design sprint

Rethinking Design Thinking

[wdo_ult_blockquotes wdo_blockquote_text="“…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" wdo_icon_color="#ff5901"]

Design Thinking Takeaway

Design thinking can be a very nuanced subject. But, it’s important to remember that you are not bound to any previously-established version of design thinking–you must make it your own!

Design Thinking Is… As Opposed To…
Problem-focused Solution-focused
Empathizing before forming conclusions Jumping to conclusions
Comfortable with ambiguity and vulnerability Discomfort with ambiguity and vulnerability
Open to failure Afraid of failure
Iterative and agile Waterfall
Optimistic Pessimistic
Creative problem solving Doing things the same way as before
Dependent on collaboration Optional collaboration
Analytical and imaginative thinking Critical and analytical thinking

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