Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.
Origin of the term design thinking
While design thinking has historic roots that date back to the 1950s, 1960s, when design methods started to be applied to business, it gained momentum in the early 2000s when the consultancy firm IDEO popularized it further.
Today Design thinking has become even more predominant and popular throughout the 2010s when thinkers like Tim Brown, Tom and David Kelley from IDEO highlighted how design could be used as the primary force to balance out human needs with technological feasibility and viability.
What is design thinking?
As highlighted on IDEO, by Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO:
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO
…creative confidence—the natural ability to come up with new ideas and the courage to try them out. We do this by giving them strategies to get past four fears that hold most of us back: fear of the messy unknown, fear of being judged, fear of the first step, and fear of losing control.
In an interview in 2012, on HBR about “The Four Fears Blocking You from Great Ideas” Tom and David Kelley explained what prevented people to unlock their creative power:
- Fear of the messy unknown meant as fear of getting out from the office to gather firsthand observations that require the ability to deal with the uncertain.
- Fear of being judged.
- Fear of the first step.
- Fear of letting go connected to the fear of losing control.
In his TED talk, How to build your creative confidence, David Kelley explained how to use a process which psychologist, Bandura called “guided mastery” that enabled people to get comfortable with the unknown or the featured step-by-step.
With confidence built up gradually and deliberately, a renewed self-reliance comes, that Bandura called “self-efficacy,” or “the sense that you can change the world and that you can attain what you set out to do.”
Integrative thinking: The foundation of design thinking
Tim Brown, in 2009 TED Talk entitled “Designers – Think Big!” highlighted:
Roger Martin, the business school professor at the University of Toronto, calls integrative thinking. And that’s the ability to exploit opposing ideas and opposing constraints to create new solutions. In the case of design, that means balancing desirability, what humans need, with technical feasibility, and economic viability.Tim Brown, in 2009 TED Talk
In short, according to Tim Brown, design thinking is born by balancing:
- Desirability: do people want it?
- Technical feasibility: can we actually build it?
- Economic viability: is it sustainable? Should we do it?
The key ingredients of design thinking and its five stages
Design thinking moves around a few key ingredients such as problem-solving, human-centric (as Tim Brown, in 2009 TED Talk that means “It may integrate technology and economics, but it starts with what humans need, understanding culture and context before we even know where to start to have ideas“).
An effective design thinking process moves around five key stages:
- Empathize: what do my users/customers need?
- Define: what core problem do they have?
- Ideate: craft and brainstorm creative ideas.
- Prototype: craft a possible solution for each core problem.
- Test: does the proposed solution fit and solve the problem?
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- What Is Business Model Innovation And Why It Matters
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- Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas In A Nutshell
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- What Is Market Segmentation? the Ultimate Guide to Market Segmentation
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- What is Growth Hacking?