What Is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking has become a popular buzzword in fields such as software, health care, social enterprise, and retail, yet it is often misrepresented and misunderstood. Hundreds of creative agencies and consulting firms have co-opted the term and used it as the basis for simple brainstorming and prototyping sessions. These sessions only trigger a small percentage of the gains a true Design Thinking project would achieve.

Design Thinking, correctly applied, actually begins with the careful observation of customers' daily behaviors and needs, proceeds through the drafting of hypotheses that draw upon these observations, and leads to the creation of problem statements, also known as Design Challenges. With a Design Challenge in place, backed by well-developed observations and a hypothesis, a team is ready to begin brainstorming ideas for the future. Creative ideation sessions, prototyping exercises, and user tests follow, resulting in ever-better concepts that can gain traction in the marketplace and achieve incredible results.

Download this article for a summary of steps that characterize a Design Thinking project.