Design Thinking


Design Thinking

Design thinking is a problem solving philosophy drawn from the field of design but which is applicable to virtually any domain of human endeavor.

Key tenets of design thinking

  • Three components of design thinking: deep consumer understanding, rapid testing of product/solution variants, and business strategy formulation
  • Understand and empathize with the people for whom the design is being developed
  • Focus on the needs of the user/customer/client;
  • Pay careful attention to and incorporate elements from the context in which the design will be used
  • Take a systems approach; look not just at the 'problem' but a variety of related and potentially relateid issues, in a holistic fashion
  • Problem definitions as well as solutions evolve during the process - use experimentation and prototyping to both understand problems as well as develop potential solutions
  • Engage in abductive thinking: combining inductive and deductive thinking
  • Take multiple perspectives; create a cooperating team of people with diverse and complementary thinking styles, knowledge and skills - e.g., engineers, business people, designers, clients. Perspectives could include psychology, economics, engineering, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, art, music, ergonomics, medicine, philosophy, etc.  Involve the client too.
  • Incorporate the concept of constraints and how it might affect, and even improve design
  • Take both rational/logical as well as emotional and holistic approaches to both understanding problems as well developing solutions
  • Have a high tolerance for ambiguity
  • Generate lots of ideas including completely novel ones
  • Rapidly build and test multiple prototypes; learn by doing, refine, integrate iteratively

Design thinking is especially applicable to 'wicked' problems: problem domains that are poorly defined; defy understanding; have multiple stakeholders; have uncertain and unexpected outcomes; and are not apparently amenable to direct or immediate solutions.



Other Organizations

Definitional articles



Design Schools


Design houses


  • iDesign: intending, defining, exploring, suggesting, innovating, goal getting



Some texts used at Stanford's d-School (Stanford Institute of Design):

Design Process


Business & Finances


Personal Brand