Design Thinking – Part 2: The What?

By: Idea Theorem
20 October 2017
8 min read

Before we move forward to understand “the what behind design thinking”, it is really important to understand “the why behind design thinking

Core Ingredients of Design Thinking

Empathy – It all starts with Empathy, the interviews and/or the discovery session is one of the most important stages of design thinking. The way these sessions/interviews are run is also very important. Because if you are responsible for running a session, you bring in a little bit of bias of your own. As coordinators of these sessions, it is really important to leave your ego and come with a beginners mindset. It is important to understand, that these sessions should be about the customer NOT you. Your focus should always be on listening and asking the right questions, that will help you with a deeper understanding of what the problem could be.

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Also sometimes what people say is different from what people do, to identify these inconsistencies it is important to shadow them, as they do the task. By seeing how the task is being performed helps you better understand the situation and the information received is no more just dependent on what people say. We have conducted many of these sessions, in our process we call it the Empathy Session – feel free to check out our process.

Problem – Clear problem statement can make night and day difference in the ideation stage. The feedback that has been received from discovery session and interviews along with data that has been collected, needs to be analyzed. Using personas can help concentrate on the target audience and remove a lot of the noise/distractions which will keep the team focused. Secondly listing the pain points on a whiteboard or paper can help to visually see all the challenges together. The focus should be to keep the problem statement simple and easily understood by everyone.

Ideate – For this stage, everyone should behave like anything is possible and we have all the resources in the world to make it happen. It is really important to be open-minded in this part of the process because that will help generate a lot of great ideas. If you put the blinders of constrained resources then sometimes it becomes challenging to come up with really unique ideas. In this phase – a diverse team can have much more impact, then a team which thinks alike. Also, it is important to keep the problem statement in front of the team all the time while ideating in order to avoid moving away from the objective. Towards the end of the ideation phase, we need to shortlist some of the ideas that could be our potential solutions.

Prototype and Test – Then starts the work to make something tangible, that can be built based on the ideas that were finalized in the last stage. Again these are fairly inexpensive scaled down versions of the product. This is still an experimental stage, and there is an opportunity to try more than one ideas and see the challenges that are faced during the creation of prototypes. Also, this is a great opportunity to get feedback about the prototype from the users. Based on feedback the changes can be made to the prototype to improve it. This way product improves significantly and becomes ready to be developed using end user in mind with minimal investment.

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At end of the day, by leveraging design thinking it helps improve your chances of success. We see on regular basis, companies come to us after spending thousands of dollars on platforms and by just having an empathy session along with problem statement results into pivoting their strategy.

Different Flavours of Design Thinking


IBM created their own glossary for design thinking, to help them with their business and train their employees in the IBM design thinking framework. The company’s version of design thinking is called the “the loop”. The loop is an infinity symbol, with 4 dots – one yellow dot represents to focus on user outcomes and three green dots represents a diverse empowered team. The loop represents that the iterative process is never actually done, there is always an opportunity to improve it.

IBM is leveraging the design thinking framework to also change its corporate culture as design friendly and train all of its 380,000 employees. IBM’s newfound focus on design is an admission that a good user experience isn’t always as simple as slapping on a new user interface—it can take a total overhaul of corporate culture to get it right.

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IDEO a Global Design Firm is known as pioneers of human-centred design, also responsible for making “design thinking” popular across the world. IDEO is known for its innovative process and has been given credit for the first usable mouse. IDEO U is an online school which offers design thinking courses, listed above are the 4 phases of its design thinking process.

As we see there are certain core ingredients in design thinking around the world. But it has been modified to suit their company or their specific need to add value. All design thinking flavours tend to keep one thing in common which is to keep their end user in mind in all stages of the process, in order to build products or services that customers need. As a UI UX design firm, our focus has always been to help our Clients put Customer First!

When the customer comes first, customer will last

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