Design Thinking

design thinking

What is Design Thinking?

It’s an approach to problem-solving that uses creative and innovative techniques to develop solutions. It was developed at Stanford University by design professor David Kelley and his team. The focus of design thinking is on generating ideas and creating solutions that are suitable for the particular problem at hand. Design thinking encourages collaboration, experimentation, iteration, user-centricity, and empathy in order to create a successful solution. It can be used in any field from voting to education, healthcare and more.


In “How to solve problems like a designer” Tim Brown goes through the various steps. 5 min.

Watch IDEO’s founder David Kelley interviewed by Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes. Kelley’s work evolved from design to design thinking. He set up the D School at Stanford that’s focused on human-centered design. 13 min.

Tim Brown’s tips for the design-thinking organization:

  • Begin at the beginning. That means divergence: in the divergent stage a group want to create many choices and options. Brown quotes Linus Pauling: “To have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas.” Sometimes our tendency is to limit the number of ideas on the front end to be more efficient, he says. But that’s short sighted.
  • Take a human-centered approach. Observe “how people behave, how the context of their experience affects their reaction to products and services. This “increases the likelihood of developing a breakthrough idea and finding a receptive market.”
  • Fail early, fail often. “Time to first prototype is a good measure of the vitality of an innovation culture…. A vibrant design-thinking culture will encourage prototyping—quick, cheap, and dirty.”
  • Get professional help. Most of us don’t change our oil or cut our own hair, says Brown. So, when you need them, hire “experts, who may be technology specialists, software geeks, design consultants or fourteen-year-old video gamers.”
  • Share the inspiration. “It may be time to think abut ho your knowledge networks support inspiration—not just streamlining the pregress of existing programs but stimulating the emergence of new ideas.”
  • Blend big and small projects. “The majority of your efforts will take place in the incremental zone, but without exploring more revolutionary ideas you risk being blindsided by unexpected competition.”
  • Budget to the pace of innovation. Because “design thinking is fast-paced, unruly and disruptive” avoid its slowdown by bureaucratic budgets and procedures. Find paths for “agile resource allocation.”
  • Find talent any way you can. Brown says every organization has design thinkers, you just have to find them and free them up. Also bring in folks from the outside.
  • Design for the cycle. Most projects take time, so be flexible with the team. Let them stick with it.

— From Change by Design by Tim Brown

design thinking book

Change by Design

by Tim Brown

It’s about more than creating new products and processes, improving the way we do things. Brown, IDEO’s CEO  pulls back the curtains to explain why design thinking is needed and how it works. He lays out the techniques. The process combines our intuitive and analytical (we all have both) for a “third way.”

design thinking

Design Thinking for the Greater Good

by Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman & Daisy Azer

This book focuses social change. The tell storys, how a dozen organizations from Ireland to South Texas used the process to grapple with and address a variety of “wicked problems.”