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What is Design Thinking?

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An increasing number of businesses are taking a Design Thinking approach to problem-solving. It’s a term we’re hearing across industries as businesses and entrepreneurs sing the praises of Design Thinking and what it’s helped them achieve.

So what exactly is Design Thinking, and how is it helping so many companies create top quality services and products?

Design Thinking is a human-centric method of problem-solving. This means at the core of all decisions and processes is the human. Design Thinking considers what humans need and how they would benefit from a particular decision. For example, rather than creating a product simply because the technology is at our disposal, a design thinker would consider how this product will benefit a human being and base its value on this.

How Does Design Thinking Work?

There are five pillars to the design process. These pillars are not steadfast rules and do not have to be undertaken sequentially. They’re an indication of the ways design thinkers think and develop solutions through a human-centric lens. This means these steps are usually repeated and undertaken in non-linear structures to get the best result.


The design strategy usually begins with the empathetic stage, this provides the foundation for all future ideas and decisions.

The empathetic stage of Design Thinking is about connecting emotionally with the ideal consumer. Through this process, you work to understand their problems and concerns they’re facing. As part of your empathetic journey, you might interview and engage with those facing the problem you’re tackling. Then you need to understand how these emotions manifest themselves; what actions do people take because of these emotions?

Empathising leads to understanding, and you need to understand the problem as well as possible to provide the best solution.


Think of this stage as sticking a label on the problem. By defining the problem, you’re able to work towards a solution that addresses this issue directly. Try to keep this as precise and to the point as possible. Look at the information gathered in the empathising stage and identify what the core problem is. Define this problem with a mission statement and in a human-centric way.

For example, instead of “We need to increase our supplement sales by 10%”, phrase this as “People need to increase their supplement intake to ensure they’re getting all their essential nutrients.” 

The second statement defines your problem in-relation to the human value, not just the market or economic value. Remember, the human being should always be your main focus in every step you take.


Ideate is the first step in coming up with a solution. During this stage, you or your team will come up with several solutions to the problem you’re facing. Popular techniques to provoke ideas during the ideate stage include mind mapping, concept mapping and word idea sessions. During the ideate stage, you need to come up with all the possible solutions to your problem. Any activity that gets ideas flowing is ideal for the ideate stage.


The prototype phase is the experimental phase; it’s when you get to bring your ideas from the ideate phase to life. During this stage, you’ll create a smaller, inexpensive version of your solution. Your prototype needs to show how your solution would work in real life, but this usually doesn’t require a completed project/service, so don’t worry about having perfected your solution.

Prototypes show you which of your solutions work best, enabling you to narrow down your solutions to those which are the most successful. This stage will also highlight any risks or failures before you develop the final product.

The information gained from the prototype stage tells you which solution you should develop to the next stage, which you should reject, and which of them you need to redevelop/change.



Using the information gained from your prototypes, you can now test for the best solution to your problem. Although this stage is last in the process, you can still develop and change your solution during the testing process.

Using the user feedback gained from testing, you can gain a greater understanding of how your solution reacts to people’s emotions and needs. This will also highlight any further problems or risks your solution poses. Testing your product or service will show you where you need to work on your product, what money you need to invest and how to further develop your system to suit consumer needs.

The testing stage encapsulates all four of the previous points. Design Thinking is not linear and it’s part of the process to go back and reconsider the previous four pillars in order to get the best solution in the end.

What Are The Benefits and Uses Of Design Thinking?

Design Thinking puts your buyer central to your decision-making process. By doing this, you’re more likely to develop a product, solution or service people actually want.

Rather than frivolously creating a product purely because you have the means to do so, Design Thinking ensures that there’s actually a purpose and a buyer for your item. In today’s economy, no one wants to be pumping money into a project that isn’t going to reap a personal and financial reward in the end.

Design Thinking provides a safety net that proves your product will be bought and used by consumers. The five steps in the design strategy process highlight what your ideal consumer needs and shows you how you can fulfil these needs.

The design process allows you to view multiple perspectives and enables you to think critically and practically about a solution. This is not only beneficial to the project you’re currently working on but will also help develop your team into being more advanced critical thinkers.

The benefits of Design Thinking are innumerable, it’s a practice that continues to increase in popularity across industries. Time and time again Design Thinking is proving to result in better products, more efficient services, and more successful teams. By adopting a design strategy in your workplace, you’re not only benefiting your business, but you’re enriching the lives of employees and consumers too.

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