14 September 2012

Design thinking in a nutshell

Although it’s recently caught on as an industry buzzword, “Design thinking” has been around for more than two decades. It evolved in response to the need for a more structured, methodological approach to previously free-form creative problem-solving. Here’s a dense but compact overview of the discipline.

SAP is not normally one of the first large corporate names that springs to mind when one thinks of design innovation. However the behemoth German-based enterprise software firm has always shared its UX design knowledge with the wider world through its “Design Guild” website.

A recent article by Gerd Waloszek there provides an in-depth look at design thinking. Gerd starts with a definition of design thinking, noting that it’s a “…methodology not just applied to design problems.”

[Design thinking] is often used to explore and define business problems and to define products and services. In other words, Design Thinking brings the design approach into the business world. In this vein, Design Thinking has been characterized as a discipline in which the designer’s sensibility and methods match people’s needs, by applying what is technically feasible and by contemplating what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity. As a methodology or style of thinking, it combines empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality and feedback to analyze and fit solutions to the context – All this helps derive a solution that meets user needs and at the same time generates revenue, that is, drives business success.

Further sections discuss both the attributes of the methodology, as well as the characteristics of those that call themselves “design thinkers”.

Lastly, a side-by-side comparison is made between the approaches of different sources (individuals, agencies and educational institutes such as Stanford University’s d-school) to both the processes and methods of design thinking, before a summing-up which includes the history of the practice.

Source: “Introduction to Design Thinking” (Gerd Waloszek, SAP User Experience)

Design thinking (15), Methodologies (11)