My view on design thinking …

It’s difficult to explain what design thinking is to someone, unless you really immerse yourself in doing it. Here’s a short clip I found on what design thinking is. It’s a trailer to a ‘Design Thinking’ documentary.

Design thinking is …

“applying the methodologies and approaches of design to a broad set of issues and problems in business and society.”

“getting used to experimentation.”

“doing. If you are only thinking, then you are not doing.”

A sense of what I am getting is: prototyping – a design thinking term.  In my term, that would be “trying and improving.” It’s not just improving without any guidance, rather, you incorporate the feedback others give to you to re-deliver a better piece of work/ model. You are not afraid to fail and try again.

There are many design processes out there, but one that really resonates with me is d-school (Institute of Design at Stanford) design thinking process.

Design Process (d studio, Stanford Institute of Design)


You can read more about each step in the ‘Stanford Bootcamp’, but I just wanted to draw your particular attention to the ‘Prototyping and Testing’ steps.

  • A prototype can be a sketch, model or a cardboard box. We prototype because we need to explore our options, test our ideas, gain empathy, or communicate our vision
  • We test our ideas in order to learn what aspects of our solution are resonating with our users and which are not. This means going back to our prototype and modifying it based on feedback. The feedback guides our iterations.

As part of my learning process here, I realized that I have been practicing those steps. For example, when developing a positioning statement or creating a brand personality, I usually come with a piece of work, go through some brainstorming sessions with my team, and work on our ideas to come up with a better idea.

Maybe all of us have actually gone through such phases in our lives, not explicitly, but I am pretty sure in some point of our lives, we have incorporated feedback in our work. Even before this Marketing Co-op, I realized that I have been using these steps as a Career Peer Advisor – we received feedback during an evaluation process and I “re-design” the way in which I should approach and work with students.

The process of iteration is tiring for sure. It takes much perseverance and willpower to continue. And because of time constraints, this could be a reason why most of our classes lack these elements. If you think about it, we realize that we usually do an assignment, hand it in, receive a mark and that’s it. But I believe design thinking is opening up a new segment of education – a group of open-minded individuals that are willing to ask, try, listen and do. And as the video mentions, “ If you are only thinking, then you are not doing.” Design thinking blends both thinking and doing simultaneously and you gain a sense of achievement and satisfaction through the process.




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