Tim Brown, executive chair of the IDEO asserts that
“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.”
In essence, design thinking takes a human-centric approach to solve problems creatively and prompt innovation across various disciplines, industries, and in different aspects of our lives. Design thinking is also considered a creative problem-solving methodology to address “wicked problems".
Wicked problems are extremely ambiguous. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, it is defined as follows.
“A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that’s difficult or impossible to solve—normally because of its complex and interconnected nature. Wicked problems lack clarity in both their aims and solutions, and are subject to real-world constraints which hinder risk-free attempts to find a solution.”
Common examples of wicked problems include but are not limited to the following.
Today, many companies including Apple, Toyota, Microsoft, Samsung Electronics, Bank of America Corp., PepsiCo, and Nike are exploiting design thinking to solve wicked problems and stimulate innovation. Moreover, design thinking has become a buzzword in education, with the focus on developing the students' creative confidence.
The core aim of design thinking is to develop usable products or services based on a thorough understanding of the following.
Basically, by leveraging design thinking we are immersing ourselves in our customer's context. By this, we can gain the following.
Ultimately, by empathizing with your customers, you can achieve the following.
Herbert Simon's seminal text on design theory and techniques, “The Sciences of the Artificial (1969),” is one of the most thought-provoking and influential texts expounding on the science of design, which ultimately emerged as one of the first seminal works to formalize the design thinking process.
Simon's seven-stage model remains the foundation for several emerging design thinking models today. Although there might be differences in the number of stages, it is important to note that they all rely on the same principles highlighted in Simon's design thinking model. To dive deeper into the origins of design thinking I encourage you to read this Wikipedia article in addition to Design Thinking: Get a Quick Overview of the History by the Interaction design foundation.
In this course, we will focus on the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (d.school) five-stage Design Thinking model, which will be explained in more detail in the upcoming sections.