What is Design Thinking?

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (prototypes for new products, buildings, machines, communications, etc.) are conceived, developed and delivered. It involves continually re-framing problems, challenging assumptions and integrating broad perspectives into solutions.

What is Design Thinking?

  1. Empathizing and Defining the Problem Space – Using techniques like interviews, contextual observations and mental mapping, designers deeply engage with target users, beneficiaries or customers to uncover and define their true needs, pain points and constraints. This empathic mindset leads to authentic framing of the problem to be solved.
  2. Ideating Creative Solutions – Designers leverage creative exercises like rapid prototyping, brainstorming and deferring visual judgement to devise wide solution possibilities unconstrained initially by resources, systems or mental models. A culture of leaning into creativity nurtures non-obvious, human-centric and delightful solutions.
  3. Experimenting & Iterating Rapidly – Using tactics like low-fidelity early prototypes, designers test solution ideas frequently with users, gather rapid feedback, iterate and improve cycles quickly through evidence-based learning. This relies on ongoing trial-and-error thinking and staying flexible.

Design thinking requires adopting an empathic lens to understand people’s lives, prioritizing experimentation over excessive planning to ideate original solutions, and embracing creative, iterative processes to drive transformational designs tailored to human needs. The core ethos enables problem (re)framing and solving for maximum impact.



Steven Galvin

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