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Rethinking Design Thinking

A summary of insights by Risky Altaresh on design thinking as a powerful concept to develop a solution in a very efficient way

There are still many people who use the concept of design thinking to find the coolest ways to solve a problem. In reality, design thinking actually aims to solve the problem in the most acceptable way, not the coolest way, so that the resulting solution solve the problem effectively and efficiently. Design thinking becomes so effective in finding solutions because the solution it offers will continue to evolve and iterate over time. This is a real implementation of continuous improvement. If we think about it, what makes Tony Stark (from the movie The Avenger) so cool? Tony Stark became cool not because he was right from the start, but because he kept improving over time. What makes people genius is not doing the right at the first, but doing improvement over and over.

Why has design thinking been embraced by large enterprises? First, it brings everyone into the process, not just designers. Using the design process helps companies solve wicked problems with clear eyes. Design thinking also helps to scale the design process through large organizations. Business leaders who use the shared vocabulary and tool set of design thinking can confidently create better, human-centered user experiences, and disruptive products. 

Design thinking process goes through a cycle of generative flaring and selective focusing. In the definition phase, we narrow down to a specific point of view, while in the ideation phase, we flare out and generate as many ideas as possible.

“Design thinking is making organizations think about how to move faster…with iterative speed.”

Simply stated, design thinking process is aimed at codifying the artistic or scientific way of thinking with this following steps:

1. Understanding & empathy

This is where you learn as much as you can about your audience.

2. Defining the problem

This is where you investigate myriad aspects of given problems and develop personas based on demographics, goals and objectives.

3. Brainstorming solutions

Often called the “ideation” phase, a bunch of ideas are tossed out while judgment is suspended and creativity is encouraged.

4. Prototyping solutions

Here you’re trying to quickly, and affordably, test your assumptions about people, materials, and processes

5. Testing the solution

Learn what works and what doesn’t so you can tweak to enhance.

For many designers, prototyping is where the fun begins. Sometimes the key to good empathy is sharing or co-creating a prototype with your users and getting feedback. Prototyping helps us learn, solve disagreements, and test hypotheses quickly with minimal repercussions.

By testing our prototypes with real users and getting feedback,we can refine our POV, learn more about our users, and make the next iteration of the product much better. As they say at Stanford’s d.school: “Prototype as if you know you’re right, but test as if you know you’re wrong.” 

Design thinking is a state of mind. It’s a human-centric, holistic approach to problem solving and business thinking that employs empathy, ideation, prototyping and experimentation to solve real-world issues. For organizations seeped in this approach, design thinking works horizontally across an organization to tear down silos, improve communications, and deliver new insights. It’s been called “the search for a magical balance between business and art; structure and chaos; intuition and logic; concept and execution; playfulness and formality; and control and empowerment.” It’s been called “the glue between disciplines”

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