Design Thinking

Design thinking is something I’ve mentioned previously in talking about business canvas modelling and about business process mapping. I didn’t explain my take on this important technique.

Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving. The basic idea is to move from ideas to action, to change something. The leader in this technique is a design consultancy called IDEO. I learned my approach from them and need to acknowledge that.

Three Principles

Design thinking builds around three principles:

  1. Desirability is about listening to the desires of people (that might be you, looking for a better process) and then developing a solution that they need and value (funny how that word keeps popping up);

  2. Develop solutions that are feasible, that you can build within the constraints you’re operating in and

  3. You need solutions that make business sense.

Three Core Skills

Once you have these principles in mind its on to process, there are three core skills:

  1. Ideation is about generating lots of ideas quickly. The idea is to be playful. You also need to be selective, choosing potential solutions that look like they should work.

  2. Rapid prototyping is about building to think. Make your ideas come to life by building a rough prototype quickly.

  3. Iteration is about experimenting your way forward. Entrepreneurs talk about failing fast and failing forward. Iteration is this. You prototype over and again, refining your idea and moving it forward.


With these skills in mind, the design thinking process has a common structure:

  1. Engaging with a community that has an opportunity or a challenge;

  2. Gathering information on the current reality;

  3. Creating breakthrough ideas by pushing past incremental or obvious solutions;

  4. Selecting a promising idea;

  5. Refining the idea through prototyping;

  6. Executing the delivery of final service/product; and

  7. Communicating the story to encourage others to take action.

What Can Design Thinking Do For You?

As IDEO say if you do design thinking right it:

  1. Captures the mindsets and needs of the people for whom you’re creating a solution.

  2. Paints a picture of the opportunities based on the needs of these people.

  3. Leads you to innovative new solutions starting with quick, low-quality experiments that provide learning and gradually increase in quality.

Why not try it?

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