Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. —Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO
The process of designing solutions to problems is not new, nor is it restricted to formally trained designers. The software development lifecycle I was taught during my Information Systems degree more than twenty years ago and other problem solving or design approaches have many elements in common with modern design thinking but there is one key difference that makes modern design thinking so powerful: a human centered approach.
Design thinking starts with people and their lives. The first stage, empathizing, involves understanding the beliefs, values, culture, context and needs of your users or customers. Empathy maps help design teams understand try to understand what these users see, hear, think & feel and say & do. This is the special sauce of design thinking.
The further steps of the design thinking process, shown above as defined by key players such as Stanford’s dschool, are similar to the iterative development and prototyping processes that have been taught in engineering and technology for many years. The importance of design thinking in a recent times is that we can use technology to rapidly and cheaply prototype solutions and easily scale those solutions when we hit on a winner. Design thinking is now being recognised as an important way for traditional businesses to face the challenges of digital disruption, a way for educators to design meaningful solutions in the classroom, school and community and a way for entrepreneurs to design a viable business model for their ideas.