Design Thinking

8 July, 2020

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Did you know that the buzzword ‘design thinking’ draws its origins from World War II? Did you know that this concept has been propagated by a Nobel Laureate?  Did you know that design thinking was a creative response to the social and political changes prevalent at that time? Thinking creatively had to be injected into the system and was a response to the social and political scenario prevalent at that time. So, advocates of the same must recognize the importance of it and its possible contribution to change the way the world functions.

Be it the wireless earphones, sustainable fashion, drones or energy-efficient appliances, solutions lie everywhere, and any issue can be handled by thinking creatively: everything begins with a necessity to transform, an idea: or can be capsulated as ‘innovative thinking’!

Historically, it was from the ashes of the industrial revolution and World War II that novel ideas had emerged which pushed the boundaries of what was thought to be technologically possible at that time. It took a host of engineers, architects, academics, scientists and industrial designers who began to converge on the issues of collective problem solving, to get the work done. 

Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, a cognitive scientist, was the first to mention design thinking as a ‘way of thinking’ in his pioneering 1969 book, The Sciences of the Artificial. From then, design thinking started to combine the human, technological and strategic needs of our times and progressively developed over the decades to become the leading innovation methodology it is today.

What: Design thinking is a way of challenging assumptions, redefining problems and finding innovative solutions to everyday problems. But why do we need it?

Most of the issues we face today are difficult to solve using general and sweeping chimeras. Moreover, research has overtime proved that a one-stop solution doesn’t exist for anything and everything! Be it a tailor-made diet plan that works for you, or custom-made shoes, everything needs to be the ‘perfect fit’ which needs competence, understanding, skills, and engagement with the issue at hand. 

Why: It has increasingly become crucial to develop skills that allow us to understand and act on rapid changes in our environment, society, and behavior. The world has become increasingly interconnected and complex with problems mutating into greater complexities, and this is where design thinking offers a means to grapple with all this change. It hopes to focus on addressing these problems in a more human-centric manner. 

How: Methodologically, design thinking consists of 5 phases—namely, empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. While each of the phases is self-explanatory, however, they need to be understood carefully. Design thinking offers a means to think outside the box while also digging a bit deeper into problem-solving. It helps designers carry out the right kind of research. In design thinking, everybody is a harbinger of change, and what is important is the idea and the implementation. It encourages people to be risk-takers and active in shaping the world around them.

So, don your thinking caps and don’t let the obvious bore you. Question everything and challenge everyday problems. You never know what might be the ‘next big idea’ that could save the world!