• Sean Keenan

My Idea of Design Thinking


When you hear the term design thinking, you’d most likely assume that it’s some sort of specialized thinking process only used in design and you wouldn’t be wrong. When looking deeper into what design thinking is as a whole though, it can go beyond design, even helping us solve seemingly simple, everyday problems.


What is Design Thinking?


Design thinking is a design methodology, with the focus on creating solution based approaches to problem solving. Typically, it can be broken down into five different stages, with the stages themselves both leading one into another. For example, you first must emphasize with your user to truly understand what their problem is, which then allows you to ideate and come up with potential solutions.

The 5 stages of design thinking as shown by Interaction Design Foundation


Despite this, many times the design thinking process is not a linear one, with the creator often having to move between the different stages multiple times to better understand the problem at hand.


The main strength behind the concept of design thinking is that it takes problems that are often complex and abstract and restructures them so that they take on a more human-centered approach. This explains what makes it so useful for design, as design as a whole is a field that focuses on trying to solve the problems of your human users. Design thinking can go beyond that though. While the stages align very well for the typical design process, a more in-depth look at the process shows it’s strength in other scenarios


Design thinking in everyday life


At the end of the day, design thinking is meant to solve a problem by looking at it in a more human-centered approach. In reality though, many of the problems we face daily are human centered, with our solutions usually making the problem simply go away, not solve it. What if though, we tried to solve these problems using design thinking, focusing more on actually solving them rather than simply willing it away.


Amira Budi Mutiara provides a wonderful example of this with her post “Design Thinking for Everyday Life”. As a recently hired UX researcher, Mutiara began to notice how tired she was feeling. Most of the time, a person may assume they’re not getting enough sleep and consider is solved. Mutiara wanted more though, so she started the process.


When reading through the beginning of Mutiara’s story, you may think much of this is stating the obvious. She got a new job, is sleeping less, so now she’s more tired. That is correct, but the issue is it presents the answer, but with no progress towards a solution. You may think the solution is more sleep, but it’s often more complex than that. As she kept emphasizing with herself and better defined her problem, she found the actual reason for her exhaustion, the crowd. More sleep wouldn’t matter if all her energy gets drained anyway during the commute. With the problem now understood, she began experimenting with new routes. This adapts more naturally to our typical problem solving instincts, as she just experimented with different routes until she found one that worked.


Enhance our problem solving


Mutiara’s problem is a common one, which helps show the strength and versatility of design thinking. She was able to take a problem as common as “not enough energy” and create the exact solution she needed simply by using the process. She also has a much greater understanding of the problem, so setbacks such as a road being closed or a car breaking down will also affect her much less.


Life is often full of many complexities and issues that don’t have simple solutions, which is where design thinking can come in. By taking these problems in turning them into more solution-based, human-centered approaches, it helps reframe these abstract concepts and solutions into something far more simple and grounded.


Recent Posts

See All
  • LinkedIn

© 2020 by Sean Keenan.