02 Design Thinking

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Image Source:katy-lemay-premium-empathy
Reading list:
Kolko, J., 2015. Design Thinking Comes of Age.
What is Design Thinking?
Kimbell, L., 2015. Rethinking Design Thinking: Part I. Design and Culture.
  • The conception of Design Thinking

    From the materials, design thinking can be defined as an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing, which encourage designers to explore alternatives and create options that are not existed before by using the iterative process that moves from generating insights about users, generating a radical idea, several testing and forming rough prototypes.

    IDEO:Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving
  • Principles

    In modern society, people need to interact with technologies and expanded as well as increasingly complex issues and field. In this case, design as design thinking imparts a set of principles to professional designers to follow:1)  Focusing on the need of users, also known as building empathy with the audience.
    Designers are supposed to observe what people want and need especially emotional demanding based on qualitative data. Because emotional language can positively influence users’ experience on a product, which can be described as a good design.


    The Time of User Empathy:Understanding, Immersion, Ideation, and Execution. Four facets of empathetic thinking when designing for users. Diagram by Alec

    2) Main process of design thinking: multi-dimension ways of examining
    problems and prototypes of ideas to explore potential solutions.
    Design usually use artifacts to find various angles of a problem. When collecting people’s complex and intangible requirements, design thinkers normally use design artifacts such as quick sketches and diagrams to define and explore the problems that provide a method looking at they in multiple perspectives. Then, prototype plays an important role in exploration, experimentation even exploitation, since it is a way to communicate ideas, get creative, and find solutions faster.

    Thierry Brunfaut, a principal at Base Design, dispenses bits of design wisdom with his Five-Minute Posters.

    3)  Tolerate failure
    It’s an iterative process. And design thinking is not always the best approach for all the design issues.


  • Criticism

    1) Since design thinkers always ask”what if”, it seems they can handle with nearly anything. But in fact, design doesn’t solve all problem.

    2) Design thinking fails to reference wider theories of the social and missed opportunities to illuminate the context into which the designer is intervening because of shapeless research findings and non-extensively research on design studies, management and organization studies.

    3) Design Thinking ignores key aspects of the designer’s world, which presents a version as a simple form of information processing with inputs and outputs but never clarifies how easy it is to import it from one context to another. Academic research on design thinking ignores the particular context of knowledge-intensive consultancy

    4) Overemphasizing empathy leads to limited research, education, and practice.

    5) Design Thinking remains undertheorized and understudied. If something hasn’t been done before, there’s no way to guarantee its outcome. So this transformative innovation might be risky.


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