Five Elements of Design Thinking

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Written by Digital Surgeons,
• 3 min read

Organizations have embraced design thinking because its practitioners have a proven record of success applying it. But when someone asks “what is design thinking,” they often get many different answers.

There are many different interpretations of design thinking. For example, IBM’s design thinking principles are “a focus on user outcomes,” “restless reinvention,” and “diverse empowered teams.” But of the many different design thinking frameworks, these five concepts hold true for the vast majority.

1) Curiosity is about transforming “what should be” into “what could be.” From the time we are little kids, we have an inherent curiosity. Design thinking recognizes that curiosity is innate and that it is essential for innovation. Once we embrace our inner curiosity, we can become better problem solvers.

2) Unconventional problem solving, along with curiosity, fuels the creation of user centered design. In a team setting, unconventional problem solving can assist a cross functional group by turning the mirror inward and helping the group discover what they should be doing differently or what they are missing.  

3) If we think of design thinking as a homemade bread recipe, empathy is the yeast. Empathy means truly understanding the position and mindset of the user (unless you are always making stuff only for yourself).

4) Diversity in Perspectives magnifies our individual curiosity, our individual problem solving, and our individual empathy in a group setting. We tend to get tunnel vision when working alone or only with like-minded people. But diversity in perspectives allows us to draw on different people’s skill sets and knowledge in a cross functional setting.

5) Make It Real Fast. Don’t focus on creating a perfect finished product over months, but rather build an MVP (minimum viable product) as quickly as possible. You will want to quickly create a working prototype for the right audience. Your stakeholders will understand what your building and you can get the necessary feedback that you need to take your product to the promised land.

When these five principles are combined, design thinking delivers business-changing innovation.

Want to learn more about how these design thinking principles will elevate your business? Let’s have a conversation.