Design thinking is a problem solving and innovation discovery process developed by David Kelley, (founder of IDEO), at Stanford University’s d.school. The process is deeply rooted in empathy, guiding the development of the project with the end user in mind. The steps of design thinking are as follows:
We start by understanding the problem. Through interviews with experts in the field, end users and recipients, we gather and examine the data, enhance our perspective, and get the lay of the land.
We design solutions for recipients, or clients, not for ourselves. Through the design thinking process, we stay rooted in empathy, always keeping the end user’s perspective in mind. Empathy is the star of the show in all phases of design thinking.
Using what we learned, and the empathy we have gained, we define the problem with an actionable problem statement, a “how might we…” invitation to a solution.
With our “how might we…” statement defined, we go into idea mode, moving from problem to possible solutions. We go for big ideas here, with “51” in mind; we throw out our first 50 ideas because those are the obvious ones that have not worked. The good stuff starts to come at idea 51.
We get the ideas out of our heads and into the world where they are free to morph and change. Prototypes can be anything in a physical form: a business plan, storyboard or a model built out of popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and feathers. We love pipe cleaners.
This is the hard part. We take our very favorite prototypes to the end user/recipient/client and ask, “whadaythink about this?” Sometimes they love it, sometimes not so much. Either way, we gather valuable feedback for continuous improvement. We iterate, iterate, iterate.
BOOM! Delivery. We roll out our project, product, campaign or idea and put it into action. When we disrupt for good, we are changing the way things currently are, to the way things could be, resulting in positive change that is also lasting…for good.
We gather our outcomes and evaluate to learn what worked and what did not work. We ask ourselves what we learned and what we will take away from the experience.