Some prominent global brands like Apple, Google, and Samsung have widely adopted the concept of Design Thinking. Leading universities like Stanford and MIT have included Design Thinking into their teaching curricula. But, what is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a principle and a process that is concerned with generating user-centric and innovative solutions to complex problems. So, what is a Design Thinking course?
A Design Thinking course prepares one to apply the ideologies of practical Design Thinking at every stage of problem-solving. Does that sound a bit too overwhelming? We’ll make it easier in the following sections when we talk in detail about Design Thinking, its potential in transforming businesses, and how it differs from creative intelligence.
What is Design Thinking?
A design methodology, Design Thinking revolves around addressing problems and solving them through a solution-based approach. It is primarily based on the processes and methods that designers use. Still, a range of engineering, architecture, and business fields has contributed to the evolution of Design Thinking. However, the concepts of Design Thinking apply to any area and not necessarily a design-centric one.
Design Thinking is most useful for managing problems that are unknown or not clearly defined. It does this by focusing on human needs and re-framing the issues in the most human-centric manner possible. As a result, Design Thinking comes up with solutions that effectively meet the needs of humans. And, that’s why Design Thinking is a ‘solution-based approach’ to solving problems. It is in stark contrast to problem-based thinking, where, instead of working on finding solutions, all the effort remains fixated on the hurdles and limitations.
Stanford’s Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design proposes the five-stage model of implementing Design Thinking. Here is a brief idea of each of the five stages:
- Empathize: Empathy mapping is crucial to the human-centered approach to Design Thinking. Empathizing lets the designers shed their assumptions and understand the users’ needs through engagement and observation.
- Define: In the second stage, the information gathered during the ’empathize’ stage is collated. The facts are used for the analysis and synthesis of observations to define the identified problems in a human-centric manner.
- Ideate: At this stage, designers use the human-centric problem statement to think of innovative ideas and solutions to address the problem.
- Prototype: The solutions generated in the ‘ideate’ stage need to be tested. So, the designers now create inexpensive and scaled-down prototypes of the product or specific product features. In this experimental phase, designers try to pinpoint the best possible solution to all the problems identified in the previous stages.
- Test: In the final stage, designers carry out rigorous testing of the entire product using the best solutions identified in the ‘prototype’ stage.
How Design Thinking helps businesses
If you are still wondering why a Design Thinking course would be useful, let us tell you how Design Thinking drives businesses. You can also listen to authoritative design thinking podcasts. Running a business is complicated in itself. Fluctuating business dynamics, ever-evolving customer needs, multiple stakeholders, and the uncertain future can seem overbearing. Organizations that have embraced Design Thinking can connect the dots and drive the business towards success. Here are some ways in which Design Thinking has helped businesses flourish:
- Design Thinking helps business leaders to chart a roadmap for the future. Clarity of purpose and direction is crucial in this rapidly changing business environment.
- Design Thinking encourages teamwork, collaboration, and gets people aligned with collective and common goals. It leads to the contribution of innovative ideas for better service/product designing.
- Design Thinking focuses on understanding the needs and environment of the customers and their core problems that need to be addressed through a solution-based approach.
- When you build products and services that are compelling to the users, you can stay ahead of competitors. Design Thinking’s user need-focused strategy makes it possible.
- Design Thinking enables the creation of interactive and pleasant customer touchpoints to impact your brand positively.
- The innovative approach of Design Thinking improves the usability of the products/services and creates ample opportunities for the active contribution of ideas.
Design Thinking Vs Creative Intelligence
Design Thinking Vs Creative Intelligence is a long-drawn debate. Which is better? While both the concepts differ slightly, it’s interesting to note how the very dissimilarities are the source of all the discussion. According to Bruce Nussbaum, former Assistant Managing Editor for BusinessWeek, Creative Intelligence can be defined as the ability to view problems in novel ways and come up with original solutions.
The capacity of being creative, Nussbaum says, is a sociological approach, independent of developmental stages and individual genius. Design Thinking has indeed contributed dramatically towards services, businesses, and non-profit development. But according to Nussbaum, the adoption of Design Thinking as a tool has left out creativity. His rally against Design Thinking does not scrutinize the human-centric approach’s ability to bring success, but instead focuses on what it fails to deliver – and that’s creativity. He feels that this lack of creativity keeps Design Thinking from becoming an all-inclusive concept. Why? Well, the reason lies in the use of the terminologies “design” and “creative”. Most people relate “design” to fashion. But when you say “creative”, it sounds more like an inclusive term.
All said and done, the crux of Design Thinking is empathizing with people for whom you’re designing. Once you understand their needs and problems, you can focus on building solutions. Moreover, Design Thinking is not about giving ‘creative solutions’, but coming up with human-centered approaches to problem-solving. It all depends on how strategically you can apply the Design Thinking principles.
The Design Thinking Vs Creative Intelligence controversy may go on, but what prevails is that Design Thinking can be quite a boon to businesses. And we’re not saying it casually – companies like Apple and Google are a testimony to how Design Thinking approaches can revolutionize the industry. However, the first step towards building a successful Design Thinking project is getting trained in the fundamentals through a Design Thinking course.