What is Design Thinking?

In this article we will discuss the history of design, thinking about how it came to be what it is and how it's different from other tools, methods, and frameworks that we use today. Let's dig a little bit into really at a high level what is design thinking.

Origins and History of Design Thinking

The origin story of design thinking is a foundation in psychology, computer science anthropology, ethnography, human-computer interaction, interaction design, and industrial design. It was really through researchers and experts in all of these fields. The term was formed by David Kelly and then used in IDEO U.

Article: https://medium.com/@szczpanks/design-thinking-where-it-came-from-and-the-type-of-people-who-made-it-all-happen-dc3a05411e53

Design Sprints and Design Thinking

One of the critiques of Design Thinking. When we teach the Design Sprint, people ask us, and we've just been learning for the last two years about Design Thinking. All these different methods and now we're also doing agile projects we're doing now you're coming here to teach us about the Design Sprint. What's the difference between all these things we've just spent so long learning about design thinking and learning all these new methods? How does the sprint change this does replace? 

One of the questions that we hear all the time in Design Thinking is a mindset, and there's building up your toolbox full of new methods and ways of thinking about solving problems that you need to then apply them in different ways with each new project that comes along. 

A Design Sprint is a cookbook that David Kelley said Design Thinking is not the cookbook design sprints. It does outline take the hammer to use a three-millimeter nail don't know if that eid it's hit it ten times then go ten centimeters to the left get another nail hit that ten times. It's just telling you exactly what to do. To solve a particular type of problem so you can't apply it to absolutely anything, but for one specific kind of situation, you follow that cookbook that recipe, and you do get the solution out the other end. The big difference between the two both is valid. Both are super useful. One takes a lot of knowledge building up expertise and understanding how to apply million different tools. The other is a straightforward process that you can follow to do certain things like kick off a project or find the next iteration of a product. 

Design Thinking, Agile and Design Sprint

Design thinking is a mindset to solve problems with all those tools in your toolbox, and you have to decide how to apply them.

Agile is a structured way of working that is ongoing. With software development teams or other teams and running projects repeatedly, it's a way for them to do and guidelines for them to follow how to communicate more effectively, run meetings, and implement things to decide on priorities.

Design Sprint is that one's off transparent process follow this recipe.
It doesn't conflict with the other two works alongside you can be your organization using design thinking methods and running agile projects, and you can also use design sprints as part of those processes. These are things that are cover in the design sprint in this recipe that you can follow. They're also part of design thinking and agile, and you can again do them outside of a design sprint. There is an overlap of these things, and they don't necessarily conflict with each other at all.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a framework, a way of thinking about solving problems, shifting a view from creating products for business reasons turning it to thinking about solving real user's needs, understanding what people's real issues are, and finding solutions for those. 

Design thinking visualization of the process often has these five steps starting with:
  • Empathizing with the user understanding their problems. 
  • Defining the problem more concretely.
  • Ideating coming up with multiple solutions that might work for the problem.
  • Creating some quick prototypes or possible solutions.
  • Testing them again with the real people.

Design Thinking

We've got this general process that's about doing these five steps or these five phases. Still, the core thing to see about this is that there is a ton of flexibility, a ton of different tools, different methods, various templates, and other things you can use to solve problems within each of these five steps. It doesn't give you a concrete step-by-step process of empathizing with the user and how to do your creativity. There might be a million different ideation tools that you can use in design thinking.

There are a fundamental framework and a mindset, but here's a massive toolbox of things that you can learn and use, but you have to figure out how to apply them. When a project comes your way, it's a small big involving mobility software. Service design, you've got to look into your toolbox of all these vast amounts of things that you've learned. Think which tool I need to apply to this situation, which combination of devices in which order, shall I put into this project to do my user research to do creativity. Should I ideate with users, should I ideate with designers with business people? Everything is correct, and you have to figure out what will work best for your project. 

Let's look a bit more broadly now at Wikipedia and see what that says about design thinking. Design Thinking refers to the cognitive strategic and practical processes by which designers or design teams develop design concepts like proposals for new products, building machines, etc. It lays out the thinking and functional strategies, so the mindset, the methods, and the tools to design products. It's also saying it's associated with a prescription for the innovation of products and services within businesses and social context. That's about how we design works in a new way of thinking based on user needs or strongly related to human-centered design. We see lots of different things their methods, frameworks, problem framing for solving challenging tricky problems, solution-focused thinking, creativity, abductive reasoning representations, modeling of questions and solutions, and how different ways of getting inspiration about empathizing with users. The whole concept of divergent and convergent thinking is about opening up to lots of other options and then narrowing down and focusing on seeing the design sprint to implement and prototype solutions. There are lots and lots of different design parts thinking everything added to that toolbox. You're learning all these other methods and tools, templates, and frameworks and adding all this information into your toolbox. Then you have to know which device to get out at which time. 

David Kelly

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The name IDEO U is a big design consultancy founded by David Kelly and popularized Design Thinking. In 1991 he founded IDEO U. At that time, it formed the culmination of years and years of new thinking ways. That included the term that was then known as Design Thinking. IDEO U education services and use them as a great resource. There are many online courses and things to teach you about design thinking, human-centered design, and what is relevant in their system called Hello Design Thinking. Where they say " Design Thinking is not a cookbook, there's a notion about design thinking that it's a cookbook where the answer falls out at the end, but the truth is it's messier than that." " Design Thinking is not a linear path, it's a big mass of looping back and forth to different places in this process. " and they're talking about this five-step process. 

They're acknowledging the people who created Design Thinking or gave it some structure. Believing that design thinking is not a transparent, easy step-by-step process that you can follow, it's a big mess of tools and mindsets and methods to learn and then adapt and use.

Don Norman

 I want to mention is Don Norman. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is an old book written initially in 1988.
The Design of everyday things by Don Norman

It's really about the fundamentals of design. While the term Design Thinking isn't used in the book because before the term was popular, it got all the fundamentals of Design Thinking about understanding user needs and designing things to solve those needs. Rather than thinking we need to build something, let's make it the way that we believe it says let's watch, and observe, and understand and empathize with how real people solve these problems, or go about their day, and see how we can design something that fits that need exactly. There's a great example, I want to show off something called the Norman door, and I think this story itself sums up the whole concept of design thinking. 

A Norman Door has been describing everyday things, and it's an obvious example of this entire concept. This door has a handle that you can grab, so you think you need to pull it. When you get up and pull the door, you realize that it doesn't work when you pull it. You have to push it, so why is there a handle that lets you pull? That's because someone built the door. So this would look nice with a shiny handle. Maybe they're both the same on either side of the glass. Hence, it seems symmetrical fantastic we installed the door. People are always pulling this door the wrong way because there's something for them to grab, so the simple solution is to remove something. A handle if something needs to push put a push panel hood.

A prominent example of not thinking from the user's needs and the difference between them is creating something that works for people and solves their problems. I believe Don Norman deserves this special mention. Well, he didn't make the term design thinking. A lot of his work is in this same direction, and he's written a lot and has a lot of great YouTube videos and other content that clearly explains and talks about design thinking.

Full youtube video on the A Norman Door : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY96hTb8WgI&t=1s


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