Digital Themes

Design Thinking

Design thinking is the analytic process by which designs are developed. Design thinking is focused on innovative processes that focus on appropriate prototyping and testing at every stage of development. Although first described in Sciences of the Artificial by Herbert Simon in 1969, design thinking was not popularized until Tim Brown described the human-centered design process in his 2009 book Change by Design. His recommendation around design thinking is to focus on appealing to real users and the user experience at all phases of design. This means balancing the user’s point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable.

Design thinking is a cyclical process. It focuses on three main steps: design, build, and test. When utilizing this process, organizations should design with the end-user in mind. When building, they must also be sure to consider how the build itself changes the design, and make sure that it will work in real-world situations. Most importantly, organizations should ensure that they have the direct involvement of users for testing of prototypes. This will allow them to see how their clients are most likely to interact with the product. After testing, organizations should start the process over again, using the information they have gathered as part of the building and design steps.

Design thinking cannot be practiced on just an individual basis, but rather must be utilized by all design team members to truly find innovative solutions for products and services. In order to practice the process and reap the benefits, all team members should feel empowered to stretch their creativity. In Creative Confidence, Tom and David Kelly discuss how generating ideas creatively can help to innovatively solve problems.

While design thinking has become a ubiquitous buzzword for many people, focusing on what is desirable from a human point of view can help ensure that products and services can appeal to broad groups of people. This requires not only creative design processes, but also knowledge of new and emerging technologies that can enable their plans to come to life. Design thinking focuses on three main categories: feasibility, value, and viability. To be feasible, the solution must be able to be practically run by the designing organization. To be valuable, it needs to be something that clients will be interested in using. And finally, to be viable, the solution must provide a positive return on investment. Design thinking requires that all three aspects be considered at every step of the cyclical process.

Design thinking can help businesses and organizations by:

  • Speeding up adoption process: By focusing on the final outcome, as well as feasibility, value, and viability, organizations can quickly assess what they need, and start implementing the processes to start the transformation. This also allows organizations to quickly identify what information is needed to properly assess their plans.

  • Creating strong user engagement: Through human-centered design, organizations can plan processes and products that are likely to appeal to a wide range of audiences. This also allows organizations to focus on creations that will make their users want to interact with or purchase the products and services.

  • Reducing risks: By ensuring direct involvement of end users, organizations can reduce the risk of launching new offerings. Because they have had user input at multiple stages of development, there is a lower risk of unforeseen issues around new products or services.
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