What Is Design Thinking and Its Role In Innovation? (2023)

Design plays a vital role in our lives and has been for centuries. The term design evolved. Originally, design referred to the act of designing or planning something. In the early 1800s, they used the term design as a synonym for art, which is still its most common use today. However, in the late 1900s, the design term was used to refer to creating products or services.

There are different types of design, but one of the most famous is Bauhaus design. Bauhaus design is a modernist movement that started in Germany in 1919. It was founded by Walter Gropius and focused on unifying art and technology. The school believed that design should be accessible to everyone and that mass production was key to making design affordable. The school closed in 1933, but its legacy has continued to influence design.

Over the years, there have been many design movements and their followers.

Rather than treating design as a specialized field tied to specific design movements, design thinking takes a more holistic approach. It’s a way of thinking that considers the entire design process from start to finish. We have used design thinking in business, technology, and product design, but it can apply to any problem that needs an approach to creative problem-solving.

Types of Creative Problem Solving

Creative problem solving is about looking at problems from different angles and coming up with unique solutions. There are a number of different approaches to creative problem solving, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

1) Brainstorming

The first approach is brainstorming. This is where a group of people come together and throw out as many ideas as possible, without judging or critiquing them. The idea is that the more ideas there are, the greater the chance of coming up with a good one. Brainstorming can be very effective, but it can also be quite chaotic.

2) Design Thinking

The second approach is design thinking techniques. This is a more structured approach to problem-solving that involves breaking a problem down into smaller pieces and then coming up with creative solutions for each piece. Design thinking methodology is often used in business, technology, and product design, but it can apply to any problem.

3) Trial and Error

The third approach is trial and error. This is where you try out different solutions until you find one that works. This can be a very effective approach, but it can also be quite time-consuming and frustrating.

4) Existing Solutions

The fourth approach is to use existing solutions. This is where you look at what has already been done and try to adapt it to your own problem. This can be a quick and easy way to solve problems, but it can also be limiting.

5) Out of the Box

The fifth and final approach is to think outside the box. This is where you abandon all preconceptions and assumptions about a problem and look at it from a completely fresh perspective. This can be a very effective approach, but it can also be quite difficult.

(Video) Introduction to Design Thinking and Innovation

There is no one right way to solve a problem. The best approach to take will often depend on the specific problem you are trying to solve. However, by using a combination of these different approaches, you should be able to come up with some creative and effective solutions.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a design process that allows for the design of products, services, and environments to be developed in an iterative design cycle with continuous feedback from all stakeholders. Designers and innovators use this process to create innovative solutions within constraints such as cost, time, performance requirements, or regulations. It also focuses on a user-centric approach to designing for people’s needs and behaviors.

Design thinking has its roots in design and engineering, but it has been adapted for use in other fields such as business, education, psychology, and user experience design.

The Design Thinking Methodology

The approach is a structured process for solving problems that entails breaking the problem down into smaller parts and then innovating creative ideas for each.

One way to break a problem down into smaller parts is to look at it from different angles. Another way is to divide the problem into smaller pieces and then iterate to break it down into even smaller parts. Then you can more easily come up with potential solutions.

The core philosophy of design thinking is to come up with creative solutions that focus on the user, or customer, and design for their needs and behaviors. This means that designers and innovators must constantly test and iterate their designs with feedback from the customer. This feedback is essential to the design process, as it allows designers to improve their solutions.

What Are The Five Phases of Design Thinking?

The design thinking process typically comprises five phases:

1) Empathize:

Empathy is key in design thinking. It’s essential to understand the problem from the user’s perspective so that you can come up with creative solutions that meet their needs. This phase of design thinking involves research, such as interviews and observations, in order to get a better understanding of the user’s needs and behaviors.

2) Define:

Designers need to have a firm understanding of the problem they are trying to solve in order to come up with effective solutions. Defining the problem is essential to design thinking, and it involves synthesizing the information gathered in the empathize phase and coming up with a design brief. The design brief is a document that outlines the problem, the design constraints, and the human-centered design goals.

3) Ideate:

The ideate phase is where designers come up with ideas for solutions. This is done through brainstorming and other creative techniques for idea generation. The goal of this phase is to generate as many new ideas as possible so that the best ones can be selected for further development.

(Video) What Is Design Thinking? An Overview

4) Prototype:

In the prototype phase of design thinking, designers create prototypes of their ideas. These prototypes can be physical or digital, and they can be as simple or as detailed as needed. Prototyping allows designers to test their ideas and get feedback from users.

5) Test:

Through testing, designers can get feedback on their ideas and see how well they meet the needs of users. This feedback can then be used to further refine the design. Testing also helps to ensure that the design is workable and meets any performance requirements.

Why Do We Need a Design Thinking Process In Innovation?

One reason design thinking is so important is that it focuses on designing products, services, and environments that are user-friendly and meet the needs of those who will use them. Design thinking also considers the fact that design constraints can change over time, so it is an adaptable process that can design for changing needs.

Another reason the design thinking process is important is that it is a creative process. It allows designers to generate new ideas and find innovative solutions to problems. This is essential in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world where businesses need to constantly be innovating in order to stay ahead of the competition.

So, design thinking is important for innovation because it is user-centered, adaptable, and creative. By using design thinking, businesses can create products, services, and environments that are user-friendly and meet the needs of their customers. Additionally, design thinking allows businesses to be more innovative and find new solutions to problems.

Constraint-Based Innovation From Design Thinking

The design thinking process is a problem-solving process that helps designers create innovative solutions by applying constraints. Constraints can be anything from time limits and financial restrictions to design parameters and user feedback. The most common constraints are time, money, and resources (human beings, supply chain, manufacturing, etc.).

The challenge is to balance these constraints while still being creative and finding the best possible solution to the problem. This is where design thinking really shines. Design thinking helps you find creative solutions that are economically viable, workable, and desirable.

Solving for constraints is an iterative process. You start with an idea, then design and test it. After that, you refine the design based on feedback until you have a final product. This process of design, testing, and refinement is called the “design thinking cycle.”

The design thinking cycle helps you to quickly and efficiently find the best possible solution to a problem. It’s a great tool for anyone who needs to be innovative, whether you’re a designer, engineer, or entrepreneur.

5 Skills Needed For The Design Thinking Process

In order to be able to apply the design thinking approach, you need to have creative confidence combined with several skills. The most important skills are creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking. You also need to work collaboratively and communicate effectively.

(Video) The Explainer: What Is Design Thinking?

1) Creativity

Creativity is essential to design thinking because it allows designers to come up with new ideas and find innovative solutions to problems. Designers need to be able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that are practical and achievable.

2) Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is the ability to identify and solve problems. The design thinking approach is based on the idea that there is no one right solution to a problem, and that it is important to come up with multiple possible solutions. This means that designers need to be good at identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions.

3) Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make judgments about it. In design thinking, critical thinking is important for evaluating ideas and solutions. Designers need to think critically in order to determine which ideas are the best and which solutions are the most practical.

4) Collaboration

Collaboration is the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal. In design thinking, collaboration is essential for coming up with new ideas and solutions. Designers need to be able to work together in order to brainstorm and come up with the best possible solutions.

5) Communication

Communication allows designers to share their ideas with others and get feedback. Designers need to be able to communicate effectively in order to share their ideas with others, get feedback, and collaborate effectively. Communication is also important for explaining design ideas to stakeholders and getting approval for designs.

Opportunities for Design Innovation

Design innovation is important for businesses because it allows them to stay competitive and meet the needs of their customers. Additionally, design innovation can help businesses find new solutions to problems and be more innovative.

There are many opportunities for design innovation in today’s world. Some of the most promising areas include:

1) Healthcare:

There are many opportunities in healthcare. Healthcare design can improve patient safety, increase access to care, and reduce costs.

2) Education:

Design can improve student learning by making learning more accessible and fun. Additionally, it can help to reduce the cost of education.

3) Transportation:

Design innovation in transportation can improve safety, reduce congestion, and increase efficiency. Transportation design has a huge impact on the world, and it is important to make sure that it leads to positive changes.

(Video) Design Thinking and Innovation

4) Technology:

One of the main goals of design in technology should be a human-centered design to improve usability. Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a design. A design that is easy to use and learn will be more successful than a design that is difficult to use or understand. Additionally, design in technology should aim to increase functionality. Functionality is the ability of a design to perform its intended purpose.

What Is The Future of Design Thinking?

Design thinking has been around for a long time, but it has become more popular in recent years because of the rise of digital technologies.

The future of design thinking is the work of thought leaders to expand and enhance the tools and methods used in design thinking.

One of the most popular methods is called the double-diamond model. This model helps you to brainstorm, come up with ideas, and test them.

Another approach to design thinking is the method created by Tim Brown, which is called the “five stages of design thinking.” This method helps you to understand the problem, come up with ideas, prototype those ideas, choose the best one, and test it.

The future of design thinking is to continue to expand and enhance these methods to help organizations be more innovative.

Use An Innovation Agency?

An innovation agency can help an organization with design thinking by providing resources and training. The agency can provide access to creative tools and software that can help innovators create prototypes and test their ideas. The agency can also provide training on how to use these tools and how to be more innovative.

With design thinking, an innovation agency can:

  • Help to generate ideas by facilitating brainstorming sessions and providing resources that can help to spark creativity.
  • Implement an idea by providing resources and support.
  • Evaluate an idea by conducting research and surveys.
  • Help your organization build its creative confidence using design thinking transforms organizations.

Next Steps

Design thinking can be a powerful tool to help organizations be more innovative. If you want to learn more about design thinking, there are a few things you can do:

1. Read articles and books on design thinking.

(Video) What is Design Thinking? - An INTRODUCTION to the HUMAN CENTERED Innovation Approach (2020)

2. Attend design thinking workshops or events.

3. Hire an innovation agency to help you with design thinking.

If you’re serious about using design thinking to supercharge your innovation efforts, consider using an innovation agency like Techtrend. We can help reduce risk while increasing success. Contact Techtrend at hello@techtrend.com. We would be happy to discuss your specific needs and see how we can help.


What is the role of design thinking in innovation? ›

Design thinking provides a structured process that helps innovators break free of counterproductive tendencies that thwart innovation. Like TQM, it is a social technology that blends practical tools with insights into human nature.

What is the role of design thinking? ›

Design Thinking is a strategy for creative problem solving by prioritizing customers' requirements above everything else. It helps to engage a person in several opportunities like experimenting and creating a prototype model, gathering feedback from customers and redesigning the product using innovative solutions.

What is meant by design thinking? ›

Design thinking is a process for solving problems by prioritizing the consumer's needs above all else. It relies on observing, with empathy, how people interact with their environments, and employs an iterative, hands-on approach to creating innovative solutions.

What are the most important roles played in design thinking? ›

5 Skills Needed For The Design Thinking Process

The most important skills are creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking. You also need to work collaboratively and communicate effectively.

Is design thinking an innovation tool? ›

What is Design Thinking? Design Thinking is an innovative approach to innovation that combines unconventional reasoning, creativity and empathy to create original solutions that align the users' needs with business value generation.

What are the 5 stages of design thinking? ›

The short form of the design thinking process can be articulated in five steps or phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

What is the role and importance of design process? ›

The importance of the design process

Establishing a design process improves team collaboration, increases the quality and speed of your design work, and makes it more likely that everyone – especially your end users – is happy with your final designs.

What are the three roles of design? ›

But for now, I want to focus on these 3 roles: Designer as Researcher, Designer as Strategist, and Designer as Facilitator.

Why is it called design thinking? ›

Design thinking is often referred to as outside-the-box thinking, as designers attempt to develop new ways of thinking that do not abide by the dominant or more common problem-solving methods—just like artists do.

What are the 3 elements of design thinking? ›

The next time you need to solve a problem, you can grow your team's creative capacity by focusing on three core design thinking principles, or the 3 E's: empathy, expansive thinking, and experimentation.

What are the 4 pillars of design thinking? ›

Let us recall the four pillars of Design Thinking: Understand by asking people; Explore by finding patterns; Prototype by making tangible; Evaluate by always iterating.

What are the key elements of innovation in design thinking? ›

The Four Key Elements of Innovation: Collaboration, Ideation, Implementation and Value Creation.

Is design thinking the same as innovation? ›

Design thinking can be a plug-in to innovation processes, but not necessarily so. Innovation can never be a part of design thinking, since design thinking is process only, and innovation is by the logic developed in this article, a yin and yang of process and product just as design is.

What makes a design innovative? ›

Design innovation supports creativity

Instead of creating a new product and then "selling" it the public, innovative design is a process of identifying, pinpointing, and understanding the needs of the user or audience. Once the need has been identified, a solution can then be designed.

What are the types of design thinking? ›

The five stages of design thinking, according to the d.school, are:
  • Empathize: research your users' needs.
  • Define: state your users' needs and problems.
  • Ideate: challenge assumptions and create ideas.
  • Prototype: start to create solutions.
  • Test: try your solutions out.
3 Jun 2022

What is design thinking and its types? ›

Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

What are the characteristics of design thinking? ›

Some of the essential characteristics of design thinking include empathy, collaboration, questioning, creativity, exploration, experimentation, and continuous improvement.

What is most importance of design? ›

A Good Design Will Make You Look Good

It allows you to make a positive first impression on potential customers. It has been shown that human beings form an initial impression within a couple of seconds, but it can take a lot longer than this to alter that perception once a first impression has been made.

What is the role of process? ›

A process role defines a set of rights and obligations for principals. Principals are assigned to process roles. Permissions are assigned to process roles. Principals as members of roles acquire permissions to perform an action on one or more objects.

What are the different design roles? ›

Types of design work:

Design research. Branding and graphic development. User guides and storylines. UI prototyping.

What are the 5 key design principles? ›

Principles of design
  • Balance.
  • Alignment.
  • Proximity.
  • Repetition.
  • Contrast.
27 Feb 2019

How can design thinking help in solving problems and innovation? ›

The design thinking process focuses on finding creative solutions that cater to human needs. This means your team is looking to find creative solutions for hyper specific and complex problems. If they're solving unique problems, then the solutions they're creating must be equally unique.

Do you think design thinking is the only solution to problems and innovation? ›

Design thinking won't provide you with an innovation strategy. While design thinking will teach you how to have empathy for your customers, it won't dictate your organization's innovation strategy.

How is design thinking different from innovation? ›

Both design thinking and innovation both use the same methods — both use mindsets, methods and tools. In innovation, we usually call this customer-centric. In design-thinking, we call it user-centric. So by taking them apart, we can see how they relate.

What are the 4 stages of innovation? ›

4 Stages of Innovation
  • Ideation – Basic research and conception.
  • Project Selection – The decision to invest.
  • Product Development – Building the product or service.
  • Commercialization – Bringing the product or service to market and adapting it to customer demands.

What are the three 3 key roles of design management? ›

Hierarchy. Like the management of strategy, design can be managed on three levels: strategic (corporate level or enterprise wide), tactical (business level or individual business units), and operational (individual project level).


1. Design Thinking and Innovation Explained 🤔. #shorts
2. Speed up Innovation with Design Thinking | Guido Stompff | TEDxVenlo
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3. Design Thinking And Innovation - What Is Design Thinking And How Useful Is It For You?
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4. Innovation: A Design Thinking Approach | Programme Overview | Imperial College Executive Education
(Imperial College Business School)
5. Design Thinking: Innovation Strategy for You and Your Organization
(Columbia Business School)
6. The Design Thinking Process
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