What is Design Thinking and its Process

Design thinking workshops make problem-solving more straightforward.

Introduction to Design Thinking

Design thinking is a workshopping approach that is used to address hard-to-solve problems. By thinking like designers and creatives, the methodology and design thinking process encourages teams and companies to make purposeful, user-focused decisions.

As an introduction to design thinking, Career Foundry’s Emily Stevens defines the design thinking process as “[..] an outside-the-box approach, with a huge emphasis on creativity, innovation, and the needs of the user. The Design Thinking process is used to apply the Design Thinking ideology to real-world, wicked problems. [...] Unlike problem-based thinking, which tends to fixate on obstacles and limitations, the Design Thinking process is all about outcomes. It provides a non-linear series of steps that you can follow to come up with innovative, actionable ideas.”

The design thinking process breaks down into five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. It is important to note that these steps do not need to be performed in a linear fashion, and those involved may jump back and forth between steps throughout the process to achieve the desired design thinking workshop outcomes. It is important to keep the flow of problem-solving as flexible as possible throughout a design thinking workshop. Here is an overview of design thinking:

  • Empathize: “[G]ain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.” This step is about researching, consulting and trying to gain perspective.

  • Define: Defining the problem that needs to be solved, based on the evidence and material you discovered during the empathize phase.

  • Ideate: Ideation is all about brainstorming. “It is important to get as many ideas or problem solutions as possible at the beginning of the [ideation] phase.”

  • Prototype: Prototyping in the context of design thinking is about building out lower-fidelity prototypes. These prototypes are low-cost, lower spend versions of the final project.

  • Test: The “final” phase focuses on user testing. How well does the prototype perform in front of a test audience? How do your users interact with the prototype? The testing phase is vital in identifying problems and helping highlight areas that need improvement.

Design thinking is gaining rapid popularity in the tech field, but the methodology is not limited to product or creative design - it can easily apply to many other realms of business and engagement. The ideation in design thinking can take your project discovery to new levels.

It’s important to understand the full breadth of a project before it begins. This is one of the design thinking workshop outcomes. The design thinking process allows companies to bring together individuals from different departments and specialties in order to solve complex issues. The step-by-step method removes a lot of the indecision surrounding how to proceed and what to work on next. A design thinking workshop allows teams to hone in on what is important in best serving their audience/customer.

At VizworX, we offer design thinking workshops as part of our discovery process. This could be considered the ideation part of design thinking. During the discovery process, we gather and research information in order to make the most educated decision about how to proceed. At the end of the process, we outline our research and recommendations. This hands-on, activity-based approach allows us to delve into innovative, user-designed solutions.

Design Thinking Workshop

Recently, we dove into the discovery process for the University of Calgary’s Auroral Imaging Group. This allowed our team to research the various technologies available and offer the best possible recommendation. The discovery process focused on reviewing the existing framework created for Emma Spanswick. After reviewing the past project, we discovered that the existing framework would allow our team to make improvements on the provided codebase for a reduced cost. By taking this discovery process/design thinking approach, we were able to set ourselves for success and rapid development of the new project.

Take your projects from ideation to implementation with VizworX and design thinking workshops. We love helping companies and individuals solve unique problems in new and innovative ways. Contact us here for an overview of design thinking.

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