Design Thinking… a working definition

In the beginning there was product and architectural design-thinking (Peter Rowe, Design Thinking, 1987, John Thackera, Design after Modernism: Beyond the Object, 1988).

Then there was business integrated thinking,

now there is business design-thinking (Roger Martin, The Business of Design, 2009).

Evolving a working definition…

Business design-thinking is the process of bringing people and diverse information together to make decisions using both creative and critical thinking techniques for more effective results in product, service or system solutions.

Design thinking is:

  • Innovative – an opportunity to think about everyday challenges in fresh ways
  • Exploratory — about exploring different and diverse possibilities
  • Iterative and non-linear
  • About putting people/users/clients/customers first
  • Collaborative —  generally a team sport but not about “group think”
  • Open-ended and open-minded
  • Accepts and welcomes competing constraints
  • Shifts thinking from “problem” to “project” (idea from concept to reality)
  • Integrative and holistic
  • About prototyping and continuous improvement of ideas and solutions
  • About thinking visually and spatially
  • A safe way to risk – testing out ideas before implementing them

The test for design-thinking effectiveness is how many different risks, opportunities, perspectives and criteria are balanced or satisfied in the solution.

A common criteria of all design solutions is a respect for visual refinement to augment functional, operational and economic criteria, and as a result to better provide for long-term use in an increasingly knowledgeable and discriminating market.

The collaborative/iterative process is then a necessary outcome of this approach.

Next — why is design thinking important to business?

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