Understanding Design Thinking: Benefits, Practical Tips & Case Studies

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Design thinking is the practice inspired by designers where people use the process and methodologies of a designer’s occupation and apply it to other areas like businesses, education, and more!


Design Thinking is not an exclusive property of designers. In fact, great innovators across industries have practiced it. As you learn more about it and practice it, you’ll realize many of you have practiced design thinking in your lives. However, what’s unique about Design Thinking is that designers’ work processes can help us extract, teach, learn, and apply these techniques based on human behavior to solve problems creatively and innovatively. We can practice it in our designs, businesses, lives, countries, education, or wherever we face any challenge that can be solved by it.

The world’s leading tech giants innovating new solutions every day are already using Design Thinking, such as Samsung, Google, and Apple. On the other hand, many prominent universities around the globe like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT are already teaching design thinking.  

Benefits Of Design Thinking  

Employing design thinking can benefit everyone at large, be it companies, employees, or on a personal level as well. The focus of design thinking is on creating value. As you move through user research and user feedback, problem-solving becomes meaningful. This further leads to buy-in and adoption.

Design thinking helps in unleashing new and original ideas. One can easily combine multiple perspectives that benefit ideation with access to user behavior.

Design thinking empowers individuals as Contributors to develop a sense of ownership in the ideas and outcomes. Also, with access to essential knowledge, you can benefit by making intelligent decisions and innovative solutions.

Design thinking provides scope for continuous improvement. With each interaction, we learn something and find new criteria to develop a more robust solution every time.

It may sound like Design thinking would only work well in developing products or improving digital experiences, but it can be applied to almost any business challenge, and anyone can benefit from the process. 

Here are a few practical tips on design thinking that you can use and see the benefits.

Practical Design Thinking Tips

Initiate with the problem

Examining the issue is the first step. As soon as you understand the problem, it’s a reflex to develop a solution. However, you have to resist that urge to jump to a solution; instead, take some time and analyze the problem and then come up with various ideas as to how to resolve it. Often, the first solution that comes to mind is the most obvious, and you may be able to solve your problem with it. But if you take time to understand and derive a solution with varied perspectives in mind, it is possible that you not only resolve the problem but also deliver more value to users. For instance, think of a workshop that starts with a challenge, “need of logo creation for the organization”, and a similar workshop with the challenge, “we want everyone to know who we are and how we can help them.” both the workshops would produce different ideas. The challenges require multiple perspectives to come up with other innovations.

User understanding

The users’ perspective can add a lot of value to your solutions. The user is the end consumer, and considering their perspective will add value to your solution. It is vital that before you take your first step to understand your users, you let go of all assumptions and biases. Collect evidence to develop an understanding of your users. Observe them, talk to them and understand how challenges affect them. When you consider their perspectives, you are bound to explore more possibilities that you might have otherwise ignored.

Re-configure diverse teams

Great ideas often come from a group with diverse people. The utility of a product differs from person to person. That means the value proposition has to address diverse users’ diverse needs. You must consider the experience of people with various backgrounds and different roles and work on that collective knowledge to convert your idea into a reality. Including varied users on the team can also be beneficial. Creating an environment in which all team members are comfortable participating and voice their opinions can help in the long run.

Exploration and analysis are two different things

Permit your team to explore the possibilities at the beginning. Be free and open to exploring options and ideas. Generate a repository of varied opinions and inputs from your unit before narrowing it down. Encourage creativity by providing comfort to your teams so they can easily voice out the possibilities to you. Ensure them that you are not going to evaluate the ideas right away. Once you have all the responses, you can narrow down the list of ideas, establish clear criteria and make them visible. Still, if you cannot come up with something that fixes the challenge repeat the exploration and analysis pattern until you do.

Make, Test, and Repeat

The process is incomplete unless you build a prototype and gather feedback. You must sketch ideas, build prototypes, get them in front of users, observe the usage and gather feedback. Adjust your ideas and prototypes based on the input and what you learned. Repeat this cycle until you build a refined solution to launch it to the market with little risk. Even when you’ve established the solution, keep considering feedback. There’s always room for improvements and updates.

Use the art of storytelling

Before you roll it out in the market, go back to where it all started; the user. Start from scratch and explain your idea from the user’s perspective. Inform your audience about who the user is and how your solution solves a problem for them. People find it easier to connect with a value proposition to see and feel the users’ experience. Help your targeted audience put themselves in the user’s shoes and make them understand how the solution will solve their problem.

These practical design thinking tips can help you take on your business challenges, empower your team, and develop solutions to real problems for real users.

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