Think Right, Think Design A Definitive Guide To Design Thinking

Think of a hurdle or challenge you had to unravel at work recently.
How did you approach it? Did you discover yourself overwhelmed with the amount of possible solutions? Were you unsure the way to even start?
Design thinking can help.
Some of the world’s leading brands, like Apple, Google, Samsung and GE, have rapidly adopted the planning Thinking approach, and style Thinking is being taught at leading universities round the world, including, Stanford, Harvard and MIT.
But does one know what Design Thinking is? And why it’s so popular?

What exactly is design thinking?

It is an approach used for practical and artistic problem-solving. It's based heavily on the methods and processes that designers use (hence the name), but it's actually evolved from a variety of fields — including architecture, engineering and business. Design Thinking also can be applied to any field; it doesn’t necessarily need to be design-specific.

Design Thinking is extremely user-centric. It focuses on humans first and foremost, seeking to know people’s needs and devising effective solutions to satisfy those needs. It's what we call a solution-based approach to problem-solving.

Design thinking manages to solve the problem at its source. There are two kinds of problems that a business faces – a simple problem and a wicked problem. A simple problems are well defined and have a clear solution which can be found using most traditional analytical techniques. Wicked problems on the other hand are complex, can have varied solutions and their solutions can lead to further problems. To bring context, reducing pollution in Delhi becomes a wicked problem and there are various solutions that have been thought of. Odd-Even as one solution, gave rise to many other problems like women travelling alone, lack of public transport to support such high intensity population movement and more. Also, these problems change with people, culture and region. Containing pollution in Delhi and Beijing will require a very different approach. An approach that will require the problem solver to delve deeper into the specific causes for each of the city. And there will be vast differences in why such a problem exists. Design thinking is a method to solve such wicked problems.

Design thinking process was first introduced by D.School with five steps – Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and test. This could be applied to social problems, civic problems, design problems, engineering problems and many other fields like music, arts, architecture, product design and so on.
The below 5D process is an offshoot of the design thinking process modified to IT products.

What is the Design Thinking process?

The 5D process of design thinking
#Stage1 – Discover
  • Empathize with stakeholders and users to understand the problem
  • Find the unmet needs and expectations of the user
  • Analyze data and trends
  • Ask questions relevant to receive insight to the problem

#Stage2 – Define
  • Choosing the problem to solve based on business intentions
  • Define the problem using mental models
  • Define the user under consideration
  • Define the context of the user
  • For the problem at hand, define the: -

  • a) User Personas
    b) User Scenarios
    c) Task Analysis

#Stage3 – Dream
  • Ideate for maximum number of solutions.
  • Define an evaluation criteria
  • Strike-off those solutions that don’t fit the evaluation criteria
  • Create the Information Architecture and set priorities

#Stage4 – Design
  • Use UX design tools to create prototypes
  • Create the interaction design of the digital product
  • Paper Prototyping
  • Create efficiencies in the digital processes
  • Create usefulness, effectiveness and learnability of the digital product
  • Digital product to have characteristics of simplicity and remember ability

#Stage5 – Dry run
  • Test your solutions
  • Quickly iterate the solutions
  • Choose pilot users carefully
  • Constant feedback


Thinking like a designer can transform ways in which organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategy. The Design Thinking approach, converges what is expected from a human point of view with what is economically viable and technologically feasible. It also lets people who aren't trained as designers to use creative tools to address wide ranging challenges.

By Manish