What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving.

- Coe Leta Stafford, Managing Director IDEO U 

When we think about design thinking, the first word that comes to mind is human. For example, what's the human need behind that business need? Design thinking encourages organizations to focus on the people they're creating for and leads to human-centered products, services, and internal processes. The core of design thinking is getting actionable and knowing your questions. It’s about simple mindset shifts or ways of asking questions differently—a new way to look at problems.

Why Is Design Thinking Important?

  • It reduces the risk associated with launching new ideas.
  • It helps organizations learn faster.
  • It generates solutions that are innovative, not just incremental.  
3 Essential Aspects of Design Thinking
  • Empathy (human-centered)
  • Ideation (generating a lot of ideas)
  • Experimentation
    Done Right, Design Thinking...
    • Captures the mindsets and needs of the people you're creating for. 
    • Paints a picture of the opportunities based on the needs of these people. 
    • Can start to anchor on your designs and offers.

    When faced with a problem, instead of the mindset of I have to solve this, what question can you ask that might move you forward or help you understand the situation better?


    Design Thinking Webinar Chapters

    (1:10) About Sina Mossayeb: As a systems designer at IDEO, Sina designs social movements.

    (2:13) About Coe Leta Stafford: IDEO Design Director and Managing Director at IDEO U.

    (3:12) Course Overview: Observing, Interviewing, Immersive empathy, Sharing insights, and Learning from extremes.

    (4:22) What is Design Thinking: A process for creative problem-solving that includes empathy/human-centeredness, ideation, and experimentation.

    (7:25) Change in Organizations: Look at the human needs first.

    (8:57) Getting Actionable: Create versions of your ideas that people can participate in.

    (10:54) Design Thinking Exercises: What’s in your bag? As a way of observing what people value.

    (14:00) Scrappy Prototypes: Build just enough to create momentum.  

    (15:14) Skills + Frameworks: 3 main frameworks: 2x2, Venn diagram, and the journey map

    (19:00) Design Movements: Tools for simplifying the message

    (20:40) Business KPIs: Reframe the business need as a human need. 

    (26:00) Increase Employee Retention: How might we improve employee experience?

    (27:22) Shift Culture through Design Thinking: Design thinking mindsets + processes can apply to systems and large scale problems. 

    (29:15) A Culture of Innovation: Embraces ambiguity, experimentation, and learning. Meet your company where they are.  

    (33:32) Design Thinking in Change-averse Companies: Find the right collaborators and experiment on your small teams.

    (35:17) Apply Design Thinking to Services: Create constraints around experiments. Unify around the problem.     

    (39:30) Pair Market Research + Generative Research: Identify new opportunities, explore needs, and understand what is currently happening in the market.

    (44:10) Can Any Problem Be Solved By Design: Are there limits to design? Are there limits to problems?

    (46:41) The Gift of the Question: When faced with a problem, what question you can ask to better understand the situation.  


    If you’re new to design thinking and looking for an introduction, check out our latest class, Hello Design Thinking.

    Upcoming Courses:

    Designing for Change
    Starts February 28

    Leading for Creativity
    Starts April 25

    From Ideas to Action
    Starts February 28

    Insights for Innovation
    April 25

    Storytelling for Influence
    Starts February 28