Design thinking taps into capacities we all have but that are overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. It is not only human-centered; it is deeply human in and of itself. Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. Nobody wants to run a business based on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an over-reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as dangerous. The integrated approach at the core of the design process suggests a ‘third way.’ “

– Tim Brown, Change by Design, Introduction

What is Design Thinking?

As per the definition, “Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic, and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed by designers or design teams.”

And as Roger Martin, author of Design of Business puts it, “Design-thinking firms stand apart in their willingness to engage in the task of continuously redesigning their business to create advances in both innovation and efficiency — the combination that produces the most powerful competitive edge.”

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Both the definitions suggest that design thinking is a solution-focused methodology that helps organizations innovate and grow. And these are its key components:

  • Understanding your users’ pain points thoroughly
  • Prototyping potential solutions
  • Iterating and re-iterating to have a better product or service

What are the 5 steps in the Design Thinking Process?

1. Empathize: Humans are emotion-centric and so, it is crucial for brands to understand that aspect and align their objectives with what the users are looking for. Only if you inculcate a culture of understanding first, can you truly solve a problem.

Why empathize?

As a designer working individually or in a design team, you are required to look at your customer’s pain points from their perspective as their problems are their own and probably no one understands them better. So, in order to create a product for them, you first need to show empathy, understand what they want, and analyze how to make that possible through design. To empathize, you need to observe, engage and listen. View your users’ behaviors, engage with them and listen to how they feel when they interact with your product.

2. Define: As the second stage of the design process, defining is all about gaining clarity and focusing on the design, by putting together all the insights you gathered in the first step of Empathize. This stage requires analyzing all the information possible and clearly defining the problems, objectives, and goals.

Why Define?

Remember the point of view you had in the first step? Now, this is the stage where you need to look at the challenges from your point of view as well and strive to best bring the solutions in the later stages. Based on your new understanding of pain points and challenges, you’ll be able to define them better.

3. Ideate: This stage collects insights and clearly defined challenges, objectives, and goals to start ideating on how to offer the best solutions. This is the stage to scribble down everything – from out of the box ideas to seemingly average – you never know, what might strike later as the perfect solution!

Why Ideate?

A smooth transition from identifying problems to creating solutions is what is required to combine the understanding of your target audience and their problem areas to eventually come with a strikingly innovative solution. Ideation helps push the boundaries of thinking and helps come up with a wide rage of solutions to test later.

4. Prototype: As the name suggests, this stage particularly looks at creating inexpensive versions of the product (solution) with a few specific features. This allows the designers and design thinkers to look at possible solutions to the problems that are identified in the earlier steps of this process.

Why Prototype?

Let’s say, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a prototype is worth a thousand pictures! Prototyping helps users interact with the product in a physical environment and highlights what worked for them and what didn’t. Prototyping test all possibilities without a heavy cost involved and provides an opportunity to designers to re-work on the features.

5. Test: This is the final stage of the design thinking process where designers test the prototypes created in the earlier stage. This stage gives a final perspective on the ideal solution to the challenges that were identified in the first two stages. This further allows the team to go back to them for more insights to have a better outcome.

Why Test?

It is best to have the users try the prototype first before launching a full and final version of the product. This not only helps in giving a fresh perspective to the whole problem altogether but also helps you learn more about your users which you might have missed in your earlier attempts. With a new point of view, you will be able to create a solution that best fits your users’ challenges.

So, how does one go about design thinking?

Design Thinking Workshops are by far the easiest way to move your organization in the direction of innovation and growth. These workshops, held in most big organizations emphasize on reinforcing innovation and solving problems like never before and eventually lead to higher customer satisfaction rates and ROI.  

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Why Workshops?

When a company embarks on a design project, there is a chance they will get overwhelmed by the different aspects of the brand, design, marketing, product, digital and so on. In order to help companies deconstruct their thoughts as well as prioritize the tasks, we conduct both online and on-ground workshops. The objective of the workshop is to bring together the key stakeholders to be involved in the process of defining business priorities. Some key benefits of these workshops are:

  • The workshop revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom we’re designing the products or services. It helps us observe and develop empathy with the target user.
  • It is a methodology that can be applied to all companies and departments regardless of their size, stage of development, industry, or geographical location.

Design process often involves a number of different groups of people in different departments; for this reason, developing, categorizing, and organizing ideas and solutions can be difficult when done in silos. The workshop brings together people to get a larger view of the task on hand.

 In this ever-changing landscape, the only constant is change and therefore, to embark on an innovative journey, it’s imperative that organizations infuse the design thinking culture.

Don’t know where to start?

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