Monday, March 20, 2017

What Exactly is Design Thinking?

The new form of innovative collaboration and creative thinking, that's what. Design thinking has in recent years been at the receiving end of more than its fair share of hype. Just what form does this innovative collaboration take, and what can the concept accomplish?

Design thinking is a concept aimed at a systematic approach to complex problems and a process to promote innovative ideas. It makes use of the approach taken by designers, who first deal with the problem area, working in a strongly user-oriented way. Design thinking is thus centered on the user's needs, which are constantly present in the invention process. That is why there is continuous feedback between the developer and his target group during the process in order to develop and test prototypes at a relatively early stage.

And what does the design thinking process look like?

Innovation as the objective of design thinking combines three components: technology (feasibility), economy (marketability), and humankind (desirability), with the latter as the starting point for the design thinking process.

Before the creative process can begin, however, a team-a multidisciplinary team-must be set up. A few members from different disciplines collaborate to ensure a wide range of viewpoints. Coaches help by observing, supporting and motivating the group from outside.

A multidisciplinary team is one of three components required for successful design thinking. The second is the process itself, consisting of of six phases with iterative loops. The advantage of this is that prototypes can be developed at an early stage and insights can be recapitulated. Making mistakes is an important experience that leads to further development of the project. The phases each team goes through link the intuitive process of every designer and engineering methodology.

Design thinkers are guided by the following phases:

  • Understanding
  • Observing
  • Defining viewpoint
  • Finding ideas
  • Developing prototypes
  • Testing on target groups

The third component is a variable room. It takes a room equipped to cater for the needs of creative thinkers to facilitate optimized design thinking. This innovative process requires movable furniture, plenty of space for whiteboards and presentation surfaces, and material (such as fabric, images and Lego stones) for designing prototypes.

The design thinking approach originated in the United States, by the way. Its inventor David Kelley founded the famous Silicon Valley design agency IDEO. Like to try it out yourself? Then hire the NIT's new Design Thinking room.


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