Skip to main content

Design Thinking: Understanding, Privileges, and Mindsets

what is design thinking

Is it important to know Design Thinking? The answer is yes, by using the design thinking process, we can make decisions based on what our target users really want, not just relying on decisions that come from instinct alone. Let’s check out more about it!

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a people-centred innovation approach (based on understanding customer needs, rapid prototyping, and generating creative ideas) that will change the way people think about how to develop products, services, processes, and organizations.

Design thinking is an ideology and a business process for solving complex problems in a user (customer) centred way. The goal is to focus on achieving results and practical solutions such as:

  • Technically feasible: They can be developed into functional products or processes;
  • Economically viable: Businesses can afford it;
  • Desirable for users: They meet real human needs.

The ideology behind this holds that, in order to come up with innovative solutions, one must adopt a designer’s mindset and approach the problem from the user’s point of view. At the same time, design thinking is about taking a hands-on approach, the goal being to turn an idea into a tangible, testable product or process as quickly as possible.

The design thought process outlines a series of steps that bring this ideology to life, starting with building empathy for users, to generating ideas and turning them into prototypes.

Features of Design Thinking

Design thinking helps us solve serious problems. The uniqueness of these, lies in the types of problems it handles. When it comes to problems to solve with design method, we are not just talking about common problems that have tried and tested solutions.

We are talking about a very complex and serious problem: the kind of problem that refuses to be solved using standard methods and approaches. Not only are these problems difficult to define, but any attempt to solve them is likely to give way to more problems.

Serious problems can occur at any time, ranging from global problems such as climate change and poverty to challenges affecting almost any business such as changing management, achieving sustainable growth, or maintaining our competitive advantage.

5 Design Thinking Principles and Thoughts

Creative think invention inspiration concept

Design thinking has specific and very important principles that are reflected in the methodology. Here are 5 (five) principles that are important in the design thinking method:

  • User centricity and empathy

Design thinking is about finding solutions that respond to human needs and user feedback. Users here mean humans, not technology, are the drivers of innovation, so an important part of this process involves stepping into the user’s shoes and building genuine empathy for our target audience.

  • Collaboration

The purpose of this method is to bring together diverse perspectives and ideas; this is what leads to innovation. Design idea encourages collaboration between heterogeneous multidisciplinary teams that do not normally work together.

  • Idea

Design thinking is a solutions-based framework, so the focus is on generating as many ideas and potential solutions as possible. Ideation is a core principle and a step in the idea of the thinking process. The idea generation step is a defined assessment-free zone where participants are encouraged to focus on the quantity of ideas, not quality.

  • Experiment and iteration

It’s not just about coming up with ideas, it’s about turning them into prototypes, testing them, and making changes based on user feedback. Design idea is an iterative approach, so be prepared to repeat certain steps in the process as we discover flaws and more flaws in the initial version of your proposed solution.

  • Bias towards action

Design thinking is a very practical approach to problemsolving that favors action over the discussion. Instead of hypothesizing what the user wants, design idea encourages us to go out and engage with them directly. Instead of talking about potential solutions, we can turn them into real prototypes and test them in a realworld context.

Examples of Success in Design Thinking

Product and service design is the clearest context in which to benefit from idea of the design. However, the design thinking framework can be used to address all kinds of challenges outside the realm of design.

An example of these method is being increasingly integrated into businesses as a way to drive innovation and teamwork was when IBM developed their Enterprise design framework to “help multidisciplinary teams align with the real needs of their users,” claiming that businesses using the framework are twice as fast to market their products, are 75% more efficient in terms of teamwork, and enjoy a 300% return on investment.

Then there is also the insurance company MassMutual using a thinking approach to overcome the challenge of getting young people to buy life insurance. In partnership with IDEO, they conducted two years of extensive user research.

Based on what they learned, they then began two years of prototyping and testing. The end result is the ‘Society of Grown Ups’, a set of digital tools that help educate young people to make smart financial choices.

Now we know what design thinking is and how it can be applied to almost any context. Learn more about design thinking by studying in the Visual Communication Design program at Sampoerna University.