Design Thinking: Problem Solving with a Difference

Design Thinking is a method to creatively solve problems and develop new and innovative ideas. Developed by Americans David Kelley, Terry Winograd and Larry Leifer, the method is primarily intended for interdisciplinary teams and aims to support all participants in their work.

Different experiences, opinions and perspectives on a problem are collected and collated in order to develop a strategy for change and improvement.

Design Thinking is already implemented by many international companies, such as Porsche, VW and Siemens. The method is designed to ensure the maximum possible benefit for the user and that their wishes and needs come first.The team, scope and process all play an equally important role in identifying new and unconventional solutions.

How Design Thinking Works

The three developers believed that problems can be better solved when people from diverse disciplines work together in a creative and open environment, design questions together and carefully consider the user group’s demands and motivation. Curiosity and creativity are prerequisites for this process.

Stage 1: Empathize

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In the first stage, the team focuses on the user group and establishes empathy. This is done by observing and interviewing people affected by the problem in their work environment. The team’s assumptions and prejudices are left at the door as they enter the user’s space to gain insights into their needs.

Stage 2: Define

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The second stage requires looking at the problem from every angle and all possible perspectives. The extensive research that was completed in the Empathize stage is collected and analyzed in order to define and thoroughly understand the core problem.

Stage 3: Ideate

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In stage three, all information, data, materials, insights and results which have been collected in the first two stages are brought together and visualized. The team works together to generate ideas and come up with new solutions to the defined problem.

Stage 4: Prototype

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The team starts building the ideas and evaluates whether they can lead to viable problem solutions. All feedback, suggestions and criticism is taken into account to create prototypes that meet four important criteria; attractiveness, feasibility, cost effectiveness and maximum benefit to the user.

Stage 5: Test

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The prototypes go through rigorous testing and feedback loops. Feedback from the user group will often lead the team to redefine some of the problems and create new starting points for improvements or alternative prototypes.

Design Thinking is a method that enables people to articulate problems and generate solutions in the form of products, services and more. It’s a creative, solution-focused process that helps people overcome unconscious boundaries and think outside of the box.