Design Thinking is a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.
Here we focus on the five-stage Design Thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (d.school). d.school is the leading university when it comes to teaching Design Thinking. The five stages of Design Thinking, according to d.school, are as follows: Empathise, Define (the problem), Ideate, Prototype, and Test.
The first stage of the Design Thinking process demands gaining an empathic understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, typically through some form of user research. Empathy is crucial because it allows you to set aside your own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into users and their perspectives. This stage involves entering the realm of the users and, as far as possible, “becoming” them so as to begin work on custom-designing a solution.
During the Define stage of Design Thinking, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathize stage. You analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems you and your team have identified so far. This is where you ensure that what you are addressing sits in sharp relief before you, its properties known in full.
The process’s third stage finds you ready to start generating ideas. With the knowledge you have gathered in the first two phases, you 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.
In the Prototype phase of Design Thinking, your design team produce a number of inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product or specific features found within the product so you can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage.
In the Test phase of Design Thinking, you rigorously test the completed product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage; however, in an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are what you will often use to redefine one or more problems.
Perspectives on Design Thinking
It appears that Design thinking has at least two important notions common with Perspectives. The first is the importance of empathy. Empathy is about stepping out of your own role and try to understand the perspective of others. In Perspectives we will particularly ask the questions what the goals and responsibilities of the stakeholders are and which information they need to realise them.
The second common notion is a fast iteration of Ideate, Prototype and Test. Using the Perspectives Software it is possible to both generate prototypes of the stakeholder's perspectives and validate them during workshops. This will improve the workshop's dynamics and the quality of the result. It will be interesting to see how Perspectives can be used in Design Thinking workshops.