“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
Design Thinking is a (structured) process which encourages us to define a problem and identify actionable solutions. Instead of starting with a problem, design thinking starts with observation. It’s informed by an understanding of the culture and the context of a problem (what people need), rather than the problem. In essence, the core focus is on developing solutions and adopting a more ‘hands on’ or applied approach on specific requirements, understanding, creating, thinking, and doing. At the core of this process is a bias towards action and creation. By creating and testing solutions, you can continue to learn and improve upon your initial ideas. This supports an evolving learning model using a number of key steps, for example:
- Empathise: Start with the people and work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing, through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.
- Define: Take action by processing and synthesizing the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.
- Ideate: Seek options to explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a variety of solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of possibilities.
- Prototype: Make it tangible and transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy for the end-user.
- Test: Revise, refine and examine the value/impact of solutions using observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original idea.
- Learn: accumulate learning through action about both the solution and the design process.
This solution-based thinking approach, highlights the important role design thinking can also play in education. Design thinking offers us a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions. The various methods for design thinking include interviewing, creating user profiles, looking at other existing solutions, creating prototypes, mind mapping, asking questions within various situational analysis.
Design thinking best describes a specific approach to innovation. It is an approach largely ignored by business professionals, educators, and even many designers. It is not the exclusive realm of designers but a necessary skill that anyone can and should learn to achieve successful innovation. It also presents students with the opportunity to draw on creativity skills, intuition, theory and practical skills throughout their educational experience.
Design science research offers a pragmatic approach to employ various analytical techniques and viewpoints on research and innovation in IS. It focuses on the design and use/performance of innovative artifacts to understand and ultimately improve the behavior of aspects of service and/or systems. One of the most cited works in Design Science includes: Hevner, A.R, March, S.T., Park, J. and Ram, S. (2004). “Design science in information systems research“. MIS Quarterly and their conceptual framework for understanding, executing, and evaluating IS research combining behavioral-science and design-science paradigms.
I really enjoyed this video by Jeanne Liedtka on ‘Designing cultures to disrupt’ at the “Better by Design CEO Summit 2013” – provides a great overview on the need for Design Thinking in Business Strategy: