What is ‘design thinking’ and how can you apply it?

Jul 5, 2017

Design thinking is hot! It is an innovative way of thinking that can help give you better insight into precisely what your client wants. But what does it entail exactly and how can you apply it? You can find that out here!

Design thinking involves looking at questions in a different way. We take the manner in which designers look at a problem and apply this to a broader range of questions. Difficult issues, in whatever sector, require just such an innovative approach. The focus is on clients' needs: what do they really want? You can find this out using design thinking and can come up with a solution tailored perfectly to your clients' requirements.
Set steps
Below, we discuss a few of the set steps of design thinking. What is important is to always bear in mind that design thinking is not a linear process. The steps do not always happen in the same order; they can also happen in parallel and/or be repeated.
1.    Empathize
The first step is to understand the problem that you are trying to solve. Try to find out more about the problem through observation, interviews and focus groups. This is a people-focused process, so empathy is crucial. You must live in the world that your client experiences. In this way you can gather usable insights.
2.    Define
Here you put together and analyse the insights gathered so you can define the core problem. This is all done in a humane and people-focused manner.
3.    Ideate
The previous steps build up a solid background that delivers interesting insights. In this step designers are ready to come up with ideas. Look at the problem from different perspectives. The aim is that you and your team members really think outside the box. That can happen in many different ways; you can brainstorm or create mind maps or sketches or organise co-creation workshops and so on. The technique that you choose will also depend on the sort of problem you have to tackle and the type of solution you want.  
4.    Prototype
In this phase, a physical product or feature is made. This allows you to study the extent to which the formulated solution is satisfactory. It is an experimental phase that aims to identify the best possible solution.
5.    Test
During this last step the complete product is extensively tested, based on the solutions that were identified during the previous step. Adjustments can also be made in this phase, in order to come up with the best possible solutions.
Design thinking brings a refreshing injection into sometimes bland ‘corporate’ thinking. Try to apply it effectively from time to time and you will see that this thinking and reasoning methodology gradually becomes a habit.

Authors: comma, brand strategists - Belgium
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