Whenever dealing with difficult challenges, applying design thinking concepts can achieve interesting results.
The ideas, strategies, and methods associated with design thinking are not exclusive to the field of design. They’re continuously being used to tackle crucial issues throughout society, from urban planning, to voter turnout, to climate change. Engineers, educators, and activists all make use of design thinking concepts and principles in their work, especially when they encounter problems for which older modes of thought have proven inadequate.
Here is a quick guide to some key concepts that foster design thinking. This should give your team what it needs to get started using design thinking to gain fresh perspectives on new or established challenges.
Observe the Core Principles
As laid out by Christoph Meinel and Larry Leifer of the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Program, the driving principles are:
●The Human Rule: All meaningful activity is a social activity. Always center on the humans.
●The Ambiguity Rule: Test the limits of your own knowledge. Get out of your comfort zone. Dare to see things differently. Fall in love with the questions.
●The Redesign Rule: There is nothing new under the sun, yet the context is ever-shifting. You’re always using existing resources to address unchanged human needs in ways that are appropriate for new technologies, capabilities, and situations.
●The Tangibility Rule: To facilitate better communication, make your ideas tangible, rendered in pictures, sounds, feelings, and working prototypes.
Respect the Process
Rikke Dam and Teo Siang of the Interaction Design Foundation break down the design thinking process into five steps. The steps often repeat themselves, sometimes overlap, and do not always occur in sequence. What they do, is serve as a rough guide.
●Empathize: Design thinking is human-centered thinking, and always starts with the real needs and behaviors of the user.
●Define: When you’ve usefully defined and formatted your problem, you’ve gone a great distance toward solving it.
●Ideate: Generate ideas through collaborative brainstorming. Adopt the attitude that, if you eliminate creative blocks and properly value ideas, you’ll never run out of them.
●Prototype: Create a working model. Put your idea out in the world where users can interact with it in a tangible form.
●Test: Let experts and non-experts evaluate and use your idea. Collect your results, organize them in a useful and actionable way, and use what you’ve learned to make your idea stronger.
Focus on Solutions
Design thinking frames problems as creative challenges and concerns itself with generating fresh, sometimes novel, always useful and compassionate solutions. It calls for respecting your users, collaborators, and stakeholders, and a willingness to entertain notions that may beckon you outside your comfort zone. It values criticism as long as it’s constructive and encourages positive, optimistic engagement with the world as it is, with a vision of how it can enable people to work and live more effectively together.
Whatever you’re doing, give design thinking a try, and let us know what you discover through experimenting with this new mindset.
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