Design Thinking

27/12/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

Design thinking is a term used to represent a set of cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for products, buildings, machines, communications, etc.) are developed. Many of the key concepts and aspects of design thinking have been identified through studies, across different design domains, of design cognition and design activity in both laboratory and natural contexts.

Design thinking is also associated with prescriptions for the innovation of products and services within business and social contexts. Some of these prescriptions have been criticized for oversimplifying the design process and trivializing the role of technical knowledge and skills.

Wicked problems

Design thinking is especially useful when addressing problems which are wickedly difficult, in the sense of being ill-defined or tricky, not malicious. Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber contrasted these with “tame” or “well-defined” cases where the problem is clear and the solution available through applying rules or technical knowledge.

Problem framing

Rather than accept the problem as given, designers explore the given problem and its context and may re-interpret or restructure the given problem in order to reach a particular framing of the problem that suggests a route to a solution.

Solution-focused thinking

In empirical studies of three-dimensional problem solving, Bryan Lawson found architects employed solution-focused cognitive strategies, distinct from the problem-focused strategies of scientists. Nigel Cross suggests that ‘Designers tend to use solution conjectures as the means of developing their understanding of the problem’.

Abductive reasoning

In the creation of new design proposals, designers have to infer possible solutions from the available problem information, their experience, and the use of non-deductive modes of thinking such as the use of analogies. This has been interpreted as a form of Peirce’s abductive reasoning, called innovative abduction.

Co-evolution of problem and solution

In the process of designing, the designer’s attention typically oscillates between their understanding of the problematic context and their ideas for a solution in a process of co-evolution of problem and solution. New solution ideas can lead to a deeper or alternative understanding of the problematic context, which in turn triggers more solution ideas.

Representations and modelling

Conventionally, designers communicate mostly in visual or object languages to translate abstract requirements into concrete objects. These ‘languages’ include traditional sketches and drawings but also extend to computer models and physical prototypes. The use of representations and models is closely associated with features of design thinking such as the generation and exploration of tentative solution concepts, the identification of what needs to be known about the developing concept, and the recognition of emergent features and properties within the representations.

The five phases of Design Thinking:

  • Empathise with your users
  • Define your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights
  • Ideate by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions
  • Prototype to start creating solutions
  • Test solutions