Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. Thinking like a designer can transform the way organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategy. This approach, which is known as design thinking, brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.
We live and work in a world of interlocking systems, where many of the problems we face are dynamic, multifaceted, and inherently human. Think of some of the big questions being asked by businesses, government, educational and social organizations: How will we navigate the disruptive forces of the day, including technology and globalism? How will we grow and improve in response to rapid change? How can we effectively support individuals while simultaneously changing big systems? For us, design thinking offers an approach for addressing these and other big questions.
There’s no single definition for design thinking. It’s an idea, a strategy, a method, and a way of seeing the world. It’s grown beyond the confines of any individual person, organization or website. And as it matures, its history deepens and its impact evolves. Design thinking is a way to solve problems through creativity. Certainly, it isn’t a fail-safe approach; nor is it the only approach. But based on the impact we are seeing in our work, the relevance of design thinking has never been greater.
To think like a designer requires dreaming up wild ideas, taking time to tinker and test, and being willing to fail early and often. The designer’s mindset embraces empathy, optimism, iteration, creativity, and ambiguity. And most critically, design thinking keeps people at the center of every process. A human-centered designer knows that as long as you stay focused on the people you’re designing for—and listen to them directly—you can arrive at optimal solutions that meet their needs.