Design Thinking And Its Key Principles

Design thinking has gained significant popularity, especially in the last decade. Design thinking is effective in resolving problems in creative and practical ways. This approach is based on the process used by the designers. Due to its origin with design, it is commonly referred with this nomenclature.

Design thinking evolved from multiple disciplines
However, the approach has evolved from different fields that include engineering, business and architecture. Besides, one can incorporate design thinking in different fields, as it is a versatile approach. Presently, design thinking has turned out to be a leading methodology in innovation. Incremental developments have been made by combining the strategic and human technological needs since the 1970s. However, the growth of design thinking has been continuous all these years.

Design thinking is human-centric
Design thinking is very user-centric. At the outset, the focus or priority lies on humans. The approach tries to understand the needs of people. Accordingly, it comes up with the necessary solutions to meet the actual requirements of people. Essentially, design thinking is a solution-oriented approach to problems with the human-centric or user-centric approach.

One can explore design thinking as a human-centered approach, that remains systematic while dealing with complicated problems, encompassing various aspects of life. The approach has come down a long way, from the traditional concepts. This approach is quite different from the engineering and scientific approaches, which address a particular task from the technical perspective of solvability. In this case, it is necessary to focus on the social aspects as well especially the user requirements and needs.

Design thinking is an iterative multi-step process to solve problems
Design thinking is a kind of repetitive process that continues until a suitable solution is found for the problem in a human-centric manner.  Firstly, the process requires understanding the needs of the actual end-users.  Many times while designing a solution, false assumptions often create wrong solutions. The emphasis in design thinking is to challenge the assumptions to avoid the limitation of wrong understanding before coming up with alternatives ways to solve the problems. This step is critical to finding a superior solution to the problem. 

Then based on newer understanding, design thinking requires a re-analysis of the situation and creating new alternatives or solutions to solve the problem. The new solution is made into a prototype that can be put in front of the users. This prototype is tested with users to gather feedback and see if it solves the problem.  Many times, the prototype solves the problem only partially, so what works and what does not work is both observed and recorded impartially without being defensive.

This process is repeated, so the design thinking process is iterative.  The end goal is clearly to find a holistic solution to the users’ problems. Therefore, the design thinking concept can be perceived as both a process as well as an ideology. It aims to resolve complex issues in a way, that revolves around the needs of the user.

Principles of design thinking
Here are the key principles of design thinking:

  • The human rule: Regardless of the context, all the design activities have a social nature. Through any kind of social innovation, we can get back to the perspective revolving around the human-centric point.
  • The ambiguity rule: Ambiguity is obvious to creep in, and one cannot oversimplify or remove it. It is necessary to carry out experiments, as per your ability and knowledge to perceive things in a different way.
  • The redesign rule: Every kind of design can be redesigned. The social circumstances and technology are subjected to change. However, the basic needs of humans remain constant. Therefore, one needs to redesign the means to fulfill the requirements.
  • The tangibility rule: The tangibility rule refers to the process of making the concepts tangible. It is presented in the prototype forms, that allow the designers to communicate them in an effective way.

Design thinking – a human-centric approach to problem-solving
Evidently, design thinking is largely centered on humans. Over the years, a significant number of organizations are adopting this approach. Design thinking motivates business firms to concentrate on the people that they deal with. In the process, it leads to an enhancement in the quality of their services, products and internal processes.