What is Design-Thinking?

"Design thinking is a creative problem-solving and opportunity finding mindset and methodology with a bias towards action that puts emphasis on empathizing with the customer, clearly defining the problem, collaboratively ideating solutions, and prototyping and testing those solutions.”

3 min read

Mitchell Pousson II / November 10, 2019

Design thinking provides guiding principles, not a process.

The end result is a platypus, an uncommon mix of different species. Because empathy builds the bridges of insight, a design thinking approach creates an enhanced level of collaboration between the creators and consumers.

IDEO's Tim Brown is one of the leading experts in the concept of design thinking. He has published many pieces including a book on the process itself as well as the growing relevance and importance it demands from all industries.

Summarized below are some of the key takeaways from his research paired with insights on how to best implement this type of thinking into your company.

The 3 “I”s

  • Inspiration Space: Insights are usually gained through observations that lead to inspiration for a new project. This starts with creative individuals putting themselves in the consumers shoes to better understand the needs they may or may not know they have.
  • Ideation: Once insights are gathered, they then need to be translated into ideas. This is the divergent phase of the process where there are no wrong answers. The team assembles and brainstorms all the possible ways they can solve the issue.
  • Implementation: Ideas are developed into a plan of action. This is the convergent phase of the process where the best ideas are selected and prototyping begins.

Divergent and Convergent thinking:

You and your friends are throwing a party and want to create a fruit punch for the event. You all have different preferences on the type of fruit and liquor you’d like to include in the punch. The group begins brainstorming all the endless combinations of what would make the best punch. This process is divergent thinking, which is essentially the start of creating the punch. After everybody has weighed in, the group then begins to discuss what is feasible and votes on the best combinations of liquor and fruit. This is an example of convergent thinking. Once the group has decided on the best combination, the prototyping or creating the punch begins. You start by creating very small amounts of the selected punch and then vote on if it’s the right punch for the party. If it’s not, the group then goes back to the drawing board to develop new and better combinations.

Design Thinking is the rhythmic exchange between the divergent and convergent phase. The team must have room to experiment in order to develop the best punch.

Divergent----->inspiration source

Convergent---->road map to solutions

Design Thinker: Someone who has the ability to spot patterns in the mess of complex inputs; to synthesize new ideas from fragmented parts; to empathize with people different from ourselves.

Design thinkers exploit opposing ideas to construct new solutions.

Prototyping: To give form to an idea to learn about its strengths and weaknesses. They slow us down to speed us up.

“The faster we make our ideas tangible, the sooner we will be able to evaluate, refine, and zero in on the best solution.”

The customers journey: beginning of a service experience to the end. Clarifies where the customer and service interact.

We can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation.



For an idea to become an experience, it must be implemented with the same rhythm of cognition in which it was conceived

Design Challenges: Structured competition in which design teams tackle a single problem.

-->Reinforces the emotional reasons for doing something.

Design thinking creates a multi-polar experience in which everyone has the opportunity to participate in the conversation.

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