4 Characteristics Design Thinking

4 Characteristics Design Thinking
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the term design thinking ? Maybe for you, design thinking is synonymous with innovation, thinking out-of-the-box , having new breakthroughs, and so on. Actually, you’re not wrong.

These three phrases are indeed the desired results of the process of doing design thinking . Usually, the ability to do design thinking is needed in jobs related to product design, user experience, UX designer , architecture, etc.

Design thinking is not only applicable in this job, it is also needed in business. Design thinking does have advantages such as cost savings and guaranteed return on investment (ROI), making users more loyal, and saving development time.

That said, design thinking is also very important for startups . Startups create, test products or services and often fail before getting funding to continue their invention. Startups must be able to define problems and answer them with product results. That’s where design thinking comes into play.

So, what is meant by design thinking ? What are its characteristics and application? Continue reading the information below so you can understand design thinking .

What is Design Thinking?

On the internet, you will find many definitions of design thinking . According to the Interaction Design Foundation, for example, design thinking is a process that is carried out repeatedly to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create solutions.

Meanwhile, “Career Foundry” said that design thinking is an ideology and process for solving complex problems that emphasize the interests of users. Simply put, design thinking is an approach or method of solving problems both cognitively, creatively and practically to answer human needs as users.

Design thinking includes processes such as context analysis, problem discovery and framing, generating ideas and solutions, creative thinking, sketching and drawing, modeling and prototyping, testing and evaluating.

The essence of design thinking includes the ability to:

  • Solve complex problems.
  • Turning strategies into solutions.
  • Using abductive and productive reasoning.
  • Using non-verbal, graphic or spatial modeling media, for example, sketching and making prototypes.

Design thinking gives us room to fail. Learning from failure, we must understand why we failed and why we must improve it. Design thinking is also associated with recipes for product and service innovation in business and social contexts. Some of these prescriptions have been criticized for oversimplifying the design process and underestimating the role of technical knowledge and skills.

John E. Arnold was one of the first authors to use the term design thinking . In “ Creative Engineering ” (1959) he distinguished four areas of design thinking. According to Arnold, design thinking can produce, among other things:

  • New functionality, that is, solutions that meet new needs or solutions that meet old needs in a completely new way.
  • Higher level of solution performance.
  • Lower production costs.
  • Improved salability.

So, according to this initial concept, design thinking covers all forms of product innovation, including especially incremental innovation (higher performance) and radical innovation (new functionality). Arnold recommends a balanced approach: Product developers should look for opportunities in all four areas of design thinking.

Characteristics Design Thinking

Even though it has many meanings, there are four characteristics that you will always encounter in design thinking :

1. Solution Based or People-Centered

Human interests as users are the most important focus in the design thinking method . Therefore, design thinking plays a role in identifying problems that humans are facing and answering these problems with solutions that are useful and effective for them.

In other words, design thinking relies heavily on solutions to answer these needs. This kind of approach will require someone to come up with something constructive to overcome a problem.

Solution-based thinking was summed up in research by Bryan Lawson, Professor of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, who compared the problem-solving process of a group of scientists vs a group of designers. Lawson said that groups of scientists tend to identify problems ( problem-based ), while groups of designers prioritize problem solutions ( solution-based) . So, solution-based is carried out experimentally to find the right solution.

2. Hands-On

One of the stages carried out in design thinking is a prototype that turns ideas into real products. This stage allows the design team to directly test the semi-finished product. Hands-on characteristics will not exist in businesses that do not use design thinking . For example, with the rise of coffee shops which are increasingly mushrooming in big cities.

The existence of coffeeshops with the same business model and offerings will only make competition in the coffeeshop industry even tighter. The rise of coffee shops also does not try to question the problems that coffee enthusiasts have. As a result, no solution product is produced.

3. Highly Creative

Some say that creativity means being able to create something new. There are also those who think that someone who is creative can connect things that were previously unrelated. If you look at it, the essence is the same, that creativity demands novelty.

This characteristic is closely related to design thinking . Solving problems and answering them with solutions is the main goal of design thinking . However, the solution offered must also show a fresh concept to attract users.

If the solution already exists before, isn’t it natural that users are not interested in your offer?

4. Done repeatedly or iteratively

Design thinking always starts with looking for a problem. Why bother looking for trouble? This is because user behavior and desires are constantly changing. Not only that, in fact, users don’t really know what they want.

This is proven by the words of Henry Ford, founder of one of the largest car companies in the world, Ford. “If I asked users what they wanted, they would say faster horses,” he said. Even though in the end Ford didn’t produce a horse, at least he managed to contribute something faster, right?

Users don’t know that what you produce will end up being something they need once it’s in front of their eyes. Design thinking exists to bridge this gap. It will be used continuously to convey these invisible desires, until the results can answer what the user really needs.

Process in Design Thinking

Design thinking is not a new term. The idea of using a design approach for creative problem solving has been discussed by experts since the 1960s. Experts contributed their thoughts to each other, thus forming the concept of design thinking .

It was John E. Arnold who first put forward the term design thinking in his book “Creative Engineering” in 1959. Then, in 1965, L. Bruce Archer responded to this idea by arguing that design thinking needed to be done systematically.

Herbert Simon, an American sociologist and psychologist contributed his thoughts through his article entitled The Sciences of the Artificial which was published in 1969. Simon introduced 7 steps to using design as a creative approach to problem-solving .

The essence of Simon’s concept then inspired the 5 stages of design thinking that are generally known today. This concept became increasingly popular after being implemented by David Kelley and Tim Brown for the design company they founded, IDEO. They see that the company is less creative in handling extreme cases that happen to them.

These five stages do not have to be sequential, but can also be carried out non-linearly. This means that at a certain stage, you might find an insight that requires you to improve the results at another stage.

Apart from that, these five stages can also be moved/changed in order, or carried out simultaneously, and repeated several times to open up opportunities for the best solutions.

For more details, see the chart below.