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What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a solution-focused and user-centric methodology to problem solving widely adopted by industrial / product designers worldwide that encourages individuals to think creatively, challenge assumptions, and explore innovative solutions in a five-stage process: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

However as much as it sounds, Design Thinking is not a methodology that is solely applicable to only the design industry. It is a Methodology to holistic problem solving.

Design Thinking is particularly valuable because it focuses on understanding the user, encourages creative thinking and promotes iterative testing. This approach can be widely applied virtually to any field or industry and is not limited to product design and development. It is a holistic mindset to approach any complex problem, ensuring innovative and user-centric solutions. Thus, besides the design industry, it is gaining popularity for businesses, individuals, industries, and schools to adopt and practice to approach problem-solving and innovative ideas.


Design thinkers develop a deep understanding of the target audience/customer/consumer and their perspectives to identify the challenges and gain insights into their user experience, such as needs, motivations, issues, feelings, etc. Design thinkers are encouraged to cast aside their assumptions and perspectives to allow objective considerations and explore possibilities leading to innovation. 


Putting together and articulating the problem based on the insights gained during the empathy stage allows design thinkers to identify the core issues that need to be addressed, as it will enable them to define the problem statement clearly. The ideal problem statement should be user-centric and motivated to address the user's core issue rather than focusing on business goals.


The sky's the limit! With the problem defined, this stage transits from identifying to exploring possibilities. It encourages thinking outside of the box and exploring various possibilities without constraints. Brainstorm ways to address those unmet needs and collect as many ideas as possible. Talk, discuss, and share with the team to bring their perspectives, experiences and insights, fostering diversity and richness in the ideation stage, which can result in innovations.


Design thinkers create scaled-down versions of the product or specific features found within the product to test these prototypes to refine the potential solutions. Through prototypes, design thinkers can identify possible feasible solutions for the identified problems, knowing what works and what doesn't in a rapid and low-cost manner.


Iterative testing of the prototype with users is the focus of this stage as design thinkers put their ideas to the test. User testing is critical to understand how users will respond and react to the product, how desirable the experience will be, and whether it solves the problems identified through data and feedback collected. The analysed data helps to improve the product, which can go through another interactive cycle of Design Thinking. 

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