2. What Is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is one of the more recent buzz words in the
design community. There are various ways of teaching and
practicing Design Thinking, and definitions and descriptions vary
A Design Methodology
Basically, Design Thinking is a design methodology. It differs
from traditional design approaches in some specific ways . For
example, some authors characterize Design Thinking as more
creative and user-centered than traditional design approaches.
A Problem-Solving Approach or Process
Design Thinking can be regarded as a problem solving method
3. As a solution-based approach to solving problems, Design Thinking is
particularly useful for addressing so-called ill-defined or tricky.
For ill-defined problems, both the problem and the solution are unknown at
the outset of the problem-solving process.
Even when the general direction of the problem may be clear, considerable
time and effort is spent on clarifying the requirements.
Thus, in Design Thinking, a large part of the problem-solving activity is
comprised of defining and shaping the problem.
The resulting problem resolution is regarded as creative, fluid, and open, and
also as the search for an improved future result (this is in line with Herbert A.
Simon’s (1969) definition of design as the “transformation of existing
conditions into preferred ones.”)
4. A Creativity Approach
Unlike analytical thinking, which is associated with the “breaking down” of
ideas, Design Thinking is a creative process based on the “building up” of
As Baeck & Gremett (2011) put it, analytical approaches focus on
narrowing the design choices, while Design Thinking focuses on going
broad, at least during the early stages of the process.
In Design Thinking, designers do not make any early judgments about
the quality of ideas.
As a result, this minimizes the fear of failure and maximizes input and
participation in the ideation (brainstorming) and prototype phases
Out of the box thinking” (“wild ideas”) is encouraged in the earlier process
stages, since this style of thinking is believed to lead to creative solutions
that would not have emerged otherwise.
7. Introduction to Engineering
Engineering can be defined as the application of practical and scientific knowledge to the solving
of a problem through the use of a methodical process.
The solutions to these problems can take many forms. Maybe the engineer is creating a physical
thing to solve a problem, maybe they are creating or improving a process for doing something,
or maybe they are determining why something happened the way it did.
As an example, one could look at this product design problem:
In order to design the above bracket to mount a TV to
a wall, an engineer would need a wide variety of
8. • The engineers might need to draw on knowledge of classical mechanics to
determine the forces the TV would exert on the bracket.
• They would need knowledge of structural design to figure out a bracket
capable of withstanding the forces.
• The engineer would need background in the manufacturing processes that
are required to make the bracket, and design it so it can actually be
• They would need some background on the types of surfaces it would mount
to, and the screws & nuts that would be used to mount it so they can
determine what screws to use and how many screws are required to keep
the bracket from falling off the wall.
• The engineer would need some basic idea of how the bracket would be
installed by the final customer and create a good user experience, as well
as knowledge of how the bracket would be used after it is installed (to be a
good product, does it need to tilt up and down? Does it need to tilt left and
The engineer would also need some knowledge of TVs; to be a good product,
the bracket will hopefully be able to mount a wide variety of television sets –
9. What is the Engineering Design Process?
The design process in its simplest terms can be seen as
a 3-step loop:
In this simple design loop an idea is generated (1).
This idea is implemented (2).
After the idea is implemented, the design group would test
the product or evaluate the result of the implementation
through testing (3).
Typically, during this testing and evaluation, additional
ideas are generated, and the process starts over
again. This cycle and repetition is why it can be said that
design is an iterative process.
13. • The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic
understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.
• This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of
concern through observing, engaging and empathizing with people to
understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing
yourself in the physical environment to have a deeper personal
understanding of the issues involved.
• Empathy is crucial to a human-centred design process such as
Design Thinking, and empathy allows design thinkers to set aside his
or her own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into
users and their needs.
• Depending on time constraints, a substantial amount of information is
gathered at this stage to use during the next stage and to develop
the best possible understanding of the users, their needs, and the
problems that underlie the development of that particular product.
15. • During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created
and gathered during the Empathise stage.
• You will analyse your observations and synthesise them in order to define
the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point.
You should seek to define the problem as a problem statement in a
• The Define stage will help the designers in your team gather great ideas to
establish features, functions, and any other elements that will allow them
to solve the problems or, at the very least, allow users to resolve issues
themselves with the minimum of difficulty.
• In the Define stage you will start to progress to the third stage, Ideate, by
asking questions which can help you look for ideas for solutions by asking:
“How might we…
17. During the third stage, designers are ready to start generating ideas.
With the well defined problem statement,yourself and your team
members can start to 'think outside the box' to identify new solutions to
the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for
alternative ways of viewing the problem.
There are hundreds of Ideation techniques such as Brainstorm, Worst
Possible Idea, and SCAMPER.
Brainstorm and Worst Possible Idea sessions are typically used to
stimulate free thinking and to expand the problem space.
It is important to get as many ideas or problem solutions as possible at
the beginning of the Ideation phase.
19. • The design team will now produce a number of inexpensive, scaled
down versions of the product or specific features found within the
product, so they can investigate the problem solutions generated in
the previous stage.
• Prototypes may be shared and tested within the team itself, in other
departments, or on a small group of people outside the design team.
This is an experimental phase, and the aim is to identify the best
possible solution for each of the problems identified during the first
• The solutions are implemented within the prototypes and, one-by-
one, they are investigated and either accepted, improved and re-
examined, or rejected on the basis of the users’ experiences.
• By the end of this stage, the design team will have a better idea of the
constraints inherent within the product, the problems that are present,
and have a better/more informed perspective of how real users would
behave, think, and feel when interacting with the end product.
21. Designers or evaluators rigorously test the complete product using the
best solutions identified during the prototyping phase.
This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model, but in an iterative process, the
results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one
or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, the
conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathise.
Even during this phase, alterations and refinements are made in order to
rule out problem solutions and derive as deep an understanding of the
product and its users as possible.
22. It is important to note that the five
stages are not always sequential —
they do not have to follow any
specific order and they can often
occur in parallel and be repeated
However, the amazing thing about
the five-stage Design Thinking
model is that it systematises and
identifies the 5 stages/modes you
would expect to carry out in a design
project – and in any innovative
problem solving project. Every
project will involve activities specific
to the product under development,
but the central idea behind each
stage remains the same.