Design Thinking

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Description of Design Thinking. Explanation.

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Design Thinking

Definition Design Thinking. Description.


Design Thinking is a design-centered approach to business management opposite to analytical and left-brained thinking. When the methodology of Design Thinking is applied to business management, it is also known as Management by Design.


The concept of design thinking originates from cognitive psychology and has been used in the 60’s by scientist, economist and psychology Herbert Simon. Simon has been an active promoter of interdisciplinary research in the field of artificial intelligence, decision making econometrics, mathematics and statistics applied to business and management. In his 1969 book “The Sciences of the Artificial”, he wrote:


“Engineering, medicine, business, architecture and painting are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent - not with how things are but with how they might be - in short, with design”.

 

In the original conception of Simon, Design Thinking was assimilated in the concept of Synthetic Thinking: a non-analytical thinking approach that would “randomly” combine single ideas into a more complex whole. The combination of ideas is a process of convergence rather than divergence and that is why this way of thinking is basically adopted by creative and design people who don’t like to rely exclusively on analysis or scientific approaches.


Different from Inductive and Deductive reasoning, Design Thinking can be considered an Abductive Reasoning methodology, and also resembles some features of De Bono’s Lateral Thinking and Gestalt Theory. In its original acceptation, the aim of Design Thinking was to integrate analytical scientific reasoning with a more intuitive and solution-oriented methodology to avoid occurring of Paralysis by Analysis and other typical pitfalls of rational decision making (Bounded Rationality). The methodology of Design Thinking was therefore not conceived as stand alone tool for problem solving but just a side methodology that would have integrated design and analytics, just like an integration of right and left brain thinking preferences in Herrmann's Whole Brain Model.


Profile of Design Thinkers

A design thinker’s personality profile should contain the following 5 characteristics:

  1. Empathy. Considering other people and relationships with them a major aspect of life allows to share their needs and visions and observe the world from multiple perspectives.
  2. Integrative Thinking.
  3. Optimism. Approach problem solving with the assumption that there is always a better solution than the already existing alternatives.
  4. Experimentalism. The capacity of creative questioning and exploring completely new directions.
  5. Collaborative Attitude. An ever increasing complexity of needs, products and services requires interdisciplinary collaboration among team members of a project. Assuming that one person alone is not anymore sufficient to solve some issues, multidisciplinary skills and experience are at least excellent features business leaders should have.

Steps in Design Thinking. Process

In its new acceptation design thinking literally means thinking like a designer would. The process of doing so requires a creative but thorough exploration of human activities and long cycles of prototyping, testing, sometimes rethinking, and refinement of ideas. It is fundamental that at any stage no member has the fear that is idea will not be valid or wrong, because any judgment is not tolerated. The process of Design Thinking involves 7 main steps:

  1. Define. Decide what issues have to be solved and their targets. Establish project prioritization. Determine project CSFs. Create a glossary of terms to avoid misunderstanding from the beginning (since often Cross Functional Teams, with members holding different backgrounds, work on the same project).
  2. Research. Explore the initial issue and its history. Collect analogue cases and consider how they have been solved. See: Analogical Strategic Reasoning. Get in touch with end-users to establish learning moments for later development. Take into consideration business thinkers’ and Opinion Leaders' opinions.
  3. Ideate. Track end-users specific needs and generate ideas that can help to satisfy identified needs. Brainstorm freely with project team members avoiding any early judgment of ideas.
  4. Prototype. Start working on ideas presented: discuss, develop, merge and refine ideas in order to create multiple drafts. Make a selection of ideas, judgment free, and present few drafted plans to the client.
  5. Choose. Being attained to the final project goal, select the most relevant ideas. Remember to disregard emotions and conflicts that could influence the decision, avoid easy and practical win, as they are often not the best solution, prevent occurring of Groupthink. Be neutral.
  6. Implement or Delivery. Define plans, resources, actions and tasks in a timeline. Assign tasks and monitor their correct execution during project delivery.
  7. Learn. Collect feedbacks internally and from end-users and relevant project data. Measure success obtained. Analyze eventual project gaps from the defined objectives and suggest improvement actions.

Design Thinking Forum
  Design Thinking Spaces (Rather Than Steps)
According to Brown and Wyatt (2010), design thinking is not a process of orderly steps. Rather, design thinking contains three so-called "spaces" that are overlapping. The authors describe the following spaces that exist in design thinking:
1...
     
 
  Book Refiew: Design of Business. Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage?
Book: Design of Thinking. Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage?
Author: Roger Martin
Publisher: Harvard Business Press - 2009
Book reviewer: Maryam Saadat
Master in Imagineering

In this book, Roger Marti...
     
 
  Overview of Systems Thinking Schools and Approaches
- Planning school - systems thinking is a holistic approach to planning complex systems. Pioneers of this approach include C. W. Churchman and russ ackoff.
- System Dynamics school - Systems thinking looks at the cause-effect and feedback loops ...
     
 

Design Thinking Special Interest Group


Special Interest Group

 

Best Practices - Design Thinking Premium

Expert Tips - Design Thinking Premium
 

Tips to Develop your Design-thinking Skills

Martin Roger (2009) argues that although chief executives probably have the highest control over a company’s directions, it is highly important that l...
Usage (application): Design Thinking, Value Creation, Innovation, Product Development, R&D
 
 
 

Integrating Design Thinking Into your Organizational Culture

Where design thinking in organizations was previously related mainly to the design of products and services, it is nowadays increasingly put at the he...
Usage (application): Design Thinking, Design-centric Organizational Culture, Innovation Culture
 
 
 

Designing Complex Products or Systems Through Iterative Rapid-cycle Prototyping

Today, organizations are increasingly developing and designing new and complex products or systems. In other words, the complexity of the design proce...
Usage (application): Design Thinking, Disruptive Innovation, Blue Ocean Strategy, Introducing Complex Systems, Co-Creation
 
 
 

Why Design Thinking also Requires Business Thinking

Design thinking can be an important way to create value, but it cannot go without business thinking. In the book “Designing for Growth (Liedtka and Og...
Usage (application): Design Thinking, Value Creation, Innovation, Product Development, R&D
 
 

Resources - Design Thinking Premium

Steps in the Design Thinking Process

This presentation is about design thinking and focuses on its process steps. It also provides good examples. The presentation includes the following s...
Usage (application): Design Thinking Process, Design Thinking Steps
 

How to Manage Creativity in Organizations

This presentation elaborates on the management of creativity in organizations, and includes the following sections:
1. Objectives
2. Innovat...
Usage (application): Innovation Management, Managing Creativity, Managing Creative People, Fostering Creativity in Organizations, Creativity
 

Design Thinking for Innovation

This presentation is about design thinking and the connection to social entrepreneurship. The presentation includes the following sections:
1. Th...
Usage (application): Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Design Thinking, CSR, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation
 

Creative Thinking Techniques and Creative Problem Solving Methodologies

This presentation elaborates on the concept of creative thinking. It pays particular attention to the multiple methodologies for developing creative t...
Usage (application): Creativity, Innovation Management
 

Introduction to Managing Creativity and Innovation

Presentation about Innovation and Creativity, thereby mainly focusing on creativity in organizations. The presentation includes the following sections...
Usage (application): Innovation Management, Managing Innovation, Managing Innovative Employees, Managing Creative Employees
 

Critical Thinking in Decision Making

Presentation about critical thinking for decision making, including the following sections:
1. Failure of Imagination
2. Untested Assumption...
Usage (application): Critical Thinking, Testing Assumptions, Avoiding Fallacies, Avoiding Biases, Dealing with Emotions
 

The Seven Steps of Design Thinking

Presentation that clearly describes the concept of Design Thinking and the processes in Design Thinking. The presentation includes the following secti...
Usage (application): Design Thinking
 

Design Thinking Case: Apple

This presentation explains Design Thinking thereby clarifying the concept with using Apple as an example. The following sections are included:
1....
Usage (application): Design Thinking, Innovation
 

Knowledge Funnel as the Starting Point for Design Thinking

R. Martin argues that design-thinking companies are better able to find a balance between the examination and exploitation of innovation processes com...
Usage (application): Design Thinking, Innovation, Business Management
 
 

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Compare with: Stage-Gate  |  Mind Mapping  |  System Thinking  |  Soft Systems Methodology  |  Thinkers’ Keys  |  Lateral Thinking  |  Gestalt Theory  |  Pyramid Principle  |  Bounded Rationality  |  Integrative Thinking  |  Abductive Reasoning  |  Cross-Functional Team

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