“Design thinking is a human centred & collaborative approach to problem solving that is creative, iterative & practical”

Tim Brown – IDEO

In simple terms, design thinking is problem solving and innovation driven by customer empathy, team brainstorming, and fast-fail prototyping. Nothing magical or mysterious. Just practical creativity geared towards improving, or innovating upon, the human condition…with good business value.

If you are creating a strategy for your business to generate profit or raise funds, applying design thinking will help you maximise that profit or funding. Some say it’s a philosophy, I think it’s a strategy to deploy design-like processes to augment everyday business functions. Led and facilitated by the right people, it will help you to be more innovative, see alternative possibilities, and ultimately, differentiate yourself from competitors.

Learning and using design thinking/human centred design principles frequently brings about a renewed sense of agency, passion, and purpose among those involved, key elements that are necessary for any change in an organisation, cultural or service.  For instance, here’s what a design thinking participant from a government agency gained from her experience:

“Not only did I get to see a more humane and humble side of our organisation, but I also rediscovered a new sense of connectedness to my colleagues and a renewed sense of duty towards the community I serve.”

The elements/qualities of design thinking/human centred design

  • Collaborative, especially with others having different and complimentary experience, to generate better work and form agreement;
  • Abductive, inventing new options to find new and better solutions to new problems;
  • Experimental, building prototypes and posing hypotheses, testing them, and iterating this activity to find what works and what doesn’t work to manage risk
  • Personal, considering the unique context of each problem and the people involved;
  • Integrative, perceiving an entire system and its linkages;
  • Interpretive, devising how to frame the problem and judge the possible solution.

Abductive reasoning is a form of logical inference which starts with an observation then seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation. In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion.


What people say about design thinking/human centred design

  • Problem solving and innovation that works.
  • Investing greater humanity, dignity, & empathy in products, services and organisations in a way which contributes to the bottom line and provides a competitive advantage.
  • Design thinking is innovating through combinations and permutations from all what is known, and then producing something which shifts a frontier.
  • Creativity and problem-solving methodologies which have a proven return on investment through better products and services.
  • Innovative product and process design which integrates seamlessly into the real lived experiences of customers.
  • Human-centric and customer-centric problem solving and innovation.
  • An innovative way of thinking where design principles are applied to create a solution that meets the real needs of customers.
  • A human-centred 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.

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