Week 2 – Design Thinking (November 2016)


Figure 1  – Design Thinking Illustrated (Starkey, 2016)

In the world there are a number of big scale problems for example Poverty and Disease and smaller scale problems like misplacing your car keys.

Design Thinking as a concept wants to ‘change how you tackle problems’ and consider new approaches that involve thinking about the needs of the user, their desires, aspirations, engagement and experiences.  Design Thinking should be looked at as a cognitive style, a general theory of design and resource for organisations. It is important to understand the context and culture of the stakeholders involved. The downside is that it ignores the diversity of designers, their practices and institutions.


Figure 2 – Design Thinking through People, Technology and Business (Feldmann, 2016)

Design thinking works to interpret change in cultures then create new forms working on a human centered approach to problem solving as opposed to technological or organisational approaches. A well defined problem decomposes systems and will search for and choose alternatives. It is key to understand and interpret the perspective of end users and the problems they have discovered or defined through ethographically inspired techniques.


Figure 3 – The Process from Challenge to Product/Service (Design thinking for business innovation, 2016)

Things need to be simple, intuitive and pleasurable especially when tackling the increasing complexity of modern technology and business, design thinking develops a responsive, flexible organisational culture. Touchpoints shape a customers impression of the company. User needs are prioritised over operational efficiencies.

The new approach is acquired through Qualitative data and Observation to find ways to emphasise with the user using emotional language. Traditional methods such as spreadsheets and specifications are replaced by diagrams and sketches. This helps to identify real problems and later ideate with better clarity.


Figure 4 – Why Prototype? (How & why prototypes are mandatory for good design, 2016)

Also creating simple prototypes are encouraged as they are quick, cheap and in the long term will produce more successful results. Prototypes work to explore physical, digital and diagramatic means to communicate ideas. It helps to develop an open minded culture and place value in exploration and experimentation over simply following the rules. Protoypes can transform a good idea into something truly valuable. Innovation is a desired result, prototyping is the most pragmatic behaviour the innovative firm can practice.

It works in the form of a three way triangle to develop the best results where you revolve between all three, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

Working in this method is multidisciplinary and relies on collaboration and the result better creativity and solutions as well as being able to work faster. It’s also important to accept that lessons can be learnt from failure it’s also part of the cost of innovation. Examples of successful companies who operate in such ways are Apple, Samsung, IBM and GE.

This is a good method to break larger scale problems down into something more managable and simpler and begin to be able to resolve these larger scale and sometimes deeply complex problems.


Figure 5 – An Introduction to Design Thinking (Evans, 2013)

There are challenges to Design Thinking, the need to embrace design as a core competance involves changing an entire attitude in a workplace which is a larger company may be a slow process, it’s more ambigious which doesn’t help and requires you to take risks and embrace them which some will not be so natural with or comfortable to start operating in such a way when working more safely perhaps for long spells in their past.

Also while design is great for innovations, design doesn’t solve all problems, it’s not the perfect process when you are trying to optimise and stabilise a perfectly stable business. Humanising technology is a good approach to take developing emotionally resonant products and services, this can help to create a responsive positive workspace with empathy driving a more human thoughtful approach.


Figure 6 – Empathy is (Quotes about empathy, no date)


Design thinking for business innovation (2016) Available at: https://www.aaltoee.com/program/design-thinking-business-innovation/general-info (Accessed: 19 November 2016).

Evans, W.  (2013) An introduction to design thinking. Available at: http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/7-resources-for-better-understanding-design/ (Accessed: 19 November 2016).

Feldmann (2016) Service design thinking. Available at: https://www.ksri.kit.edu/english/87.php (Accessed: 19 November 2016).

How & why prototypes are mandatory for good design (2016) Available at: https://designshack.net/articles/graphics/how-why-prototypes-are-mandatory-for-good-design/ (Accessed: 19 November 2016).

Quotes about empathy (no date) Available at: http://quotesgram.com/quotes-about-empathy/ (Accessed: 19 November 2016).

Starkey, J. (2016) Design thinking workshop. Available at: http://jennamstarkey.com/new-events/2016/4/4/design-thinking-workshop-dating-edition (Accessed: 19 November 2016).


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