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  • Immagine del redattoreAlessandro Fantini

What is Design Thinking

Aggiornamento: 8 apr 2021

Each business model is built within an ecosystem.

Design Thinking is a problem-solving approach applied in the field of design, which combines a Human-Centered perspective with rational and analytical research to achieve a single goal: to create innovative solutions.

What struck me most about Design Thinking is its versatility. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a musician, a scientist, anyone who has to solve a problem in a creative and innovative way, can count on this methodology.

Design Thinking is a way of thinking and working through practical methods.

It all revolves around the deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom we are designing a product or service.

Design Thinking helps us to question ourselves, questioning the problem, the assumptions, and the implications that revolve around our target.

It helps us to deal with hitherto unknown problems.

This ideation process creates a flow of ideas in the primordial brainstorming phase and through the practical approach to prototype the solutions to finally test them.

It is a 5-step process

1. Empathize

who your users are, their needs, their fears, what they expect, in what context they live.

2. Define

Getting to know users through interviews, market research, mind maps.

3. Design

Create hypotheses, transform them into ideas and "storybord them", choose one from which to start.

4. Prototype

Quickly build the solution devised, propose it to users, understand if it answers the question.

5. Validate

Now that the prototype is ready, test it on the target audience.

There is no real specific order of implementation, often some phases can also occur in parallel and repeat in an iterative way.

These steps help us to define an overview of action in an innovative process.

It takes its cue from a human characteristic

All of us naturally develop thought patterns, we do it on the basis of our knowledge and on the basis of some repetitive activities; in the morning we get up, have breakfast, wash, get dressed ... ordinary actions that we perform without having to think.

We perform multiple certain actions automatically and quickly, and it is precisely these unconscious automatisms that can prevent us from developing new ways of seeing, understanding, and solving certain problems.

Problem-solving in Design Thinking becomes "thinking outside the box".

But often, thinking outside the box can be a real challenge.

The power of story-telling

Telling stories can pave the way for new opportunities, it helps to inspire us, to find ideas and solutions. The stories tell about real people and their lives.

They are important because they give us concrete details that help us imagine solutions to particular problems.

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A clear example of how challenging our mental patterns helps us find new ways to solve our problems. Don't you think?

At the heart of Design Thinking, there's the interest and the ability to ask meaningful questions followed by stimulating hypotheses.

An element of thinking outside the box is to validate the previous assumptions, therefore: questioning, going to create a problem, the process of generating a solution will help us to produce ideas that reflect aspects and constraints that revolve around that particular problem raised.

It means being able to dig even deeper, guiding research on a very specific path, prototyping, and testing to answer that problem, discovering new ways to improve the product, service, or design.

“…the more I pondered the nature of design and reflected on my recent encounters with engineers, business people, and others who blindly solved the problems they thought they were facing without question or further study, I realized that these people could benefit from a good dose of design thinking. Designers have developed a number of techniques to avoid being captured by too facile a solution. They take the original problem as a suggestion, not as a final statement, then think broadly about what the real issues underlying this problem statement might really be (for example by using the "Five Whys" approach to get at root causes). Most important of all, is that the process is iterative and expansive. Designers resist the temptation to jump immediately to a solution to the stated problem. Instead, they first spend time determining what the basic, fundamental (root) issue is that needs to be addressed. They don't try to search for a solution until they have determined the real problem, and even then, instead of solving that problem, they stop to consider a wide range of potential solutions. Only then will they finally converge upon their proposal.
This process is called "Design Thinking."

Don Norman, Rethinking Design Thinking

It is also a team effort

Design Thinking often involves groups of people from different departments: this approach requires a HOLISTIC and EMPATHIC vision in solving problems: emotions, needs, motivations, behavioral factors.

We use the different know-how, the different intuitiveness, to build the "third way".

The Design Thinking approach, how ideas and solutions are generated, is sensitively affected and influenced by the context in which users operate and the problems and obstacles they may encounter when interacting with the product or service.

The creative element is based on the actions and thoughts of real users.

“Design thinking begins with skills designers have learned over many decades in their quest to match human needs with available technical resources within the practical constraints of business. By integrating what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable, designers have been able to create the products we enjoy today. Design thinking takes the next step, which is to put these tools into the hands of people who may have never thought of themselves as designers and apply them to a vastly greater range of problems.”

– Tim Brown, Change by Design, Introduction

Design Thinking is a "new" way of thinking,

where knowledge is constantly challenged in a process of redefining a problem in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions which, at first glance, may not be immediately highlighted.

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