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Design Thinking is a methodology to generate innovative ideas that focuses on understanding and effectively solving the real needs of users. It comes from the way in which product designers work. Hence its name, which means “the way designers think.”
Design Thinking is an innovation generator and it can be applied to any field, including the development of products and services or to improve processes or define business models.
Design Thinking is developed following a process that generates the empathy necessary to understand the problems, needs and desires of the users. Satisfying people is the key to a successful outcome.
To begin using design thinking, consider these points:
The techniques and materials used in Design Thinking are available to everyone. Grab markers, sheets of paper, sticky notes, crayons, glue and a camera. These tools to promote visual communication, which is essential in the methodology. And what is more important: an image can evoke a host of ideas, and that is open to interpretation.
Teamwork is essential in Design Thinking. The more diverse your team, the better, to add a variety of views, knowledge and experience.
During the process you will need a flexible work-space. Look for a site large enough to work around a table, with walls where you can post the information that you go generating. Somewhere comfortable and conducive to relaxed working is ideal.
Adopt a design attitude during your sessions. This means being curious, empathetic, questioning and see mistakes as opportunities.
A Design Thinking process consists of several stages. It is not linear. At any time you can go backward or forward if you see fit, jumping even non-consecutively. You collect a lot of information, generate a lot of content that grows or shrinks depending on the phase in which you are.
What is the process?
There are several different models and methods of design thinking. Katja Tschimmel introduces 5 models in Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation (2012) in: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.
My favorite model is as follows:
Image from http://www.slideshare.net/annaploskonos/ws-facilitating-the-group-design-thinking-process
Empathize: Design Thinking process begins with a thorough understanding of the needs of the users involved in the solution we are developing, as well as their environment. The team should out themselves in the shoes of these people to be able to generate solutions consistent with their realities.
Define: During the definition phase, the team sifts through the information gathered during the Empathy and selects what actually adds value and leads us to reach new interesting or perspectives. Problems whose solutions will be key to obtain an innovative result are developed.
Ideate: The stage of ideation aims to generate endless options. At this stage, the activities encourage expansive thinking and elimination of value judgments. Sometimes strange ideas become visionary solutions.
Prototype: At the stage of prototyping ideas become reality. Prototypes make ideas tangible and helps the team visualize other possible solutions, highlighting elements that we need to improve or refine before reaching the final result.
Test: During the testing phase, the team tests prototypes with users involved. This phase is crucial and helps the team identify significant improvements and resolve any shortcomings.
Iterate: Iteration is continual experimentation and development based on user feedback.
Design Thinking Templates and Tools to Explore
- Service Design Tools
- The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results
- Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators
- Design Thinking for Libraries
- Design Thinking Online Toolkits