"Ideas can come from anywhere, and everyone is creative" - summarises the ethos of Design thinking. Design thinking combines Creativity and Process to solve problems in non-linear and iterative ways.
Design thinking thrives on solving problems where the problem is ill-defined or unknown. The non-linear and iterative process allows the designers and problem solvers to accommodate uncertain variables and interdependent factors, that make them seem impossible to solve. Design thinking achieves the solution by reframing the problem in human-centric ways and focusing on the aspect important from a user perspective.
Design thinking has two critical aspects to it - Non-linear and Iterative. This means that the solution to any problem is never final and that every solution is continually examined and re-addressed as more is known. Design thinking lets thinkers concentrate on the user experience and de-prioritise everything else. Thereby allowing creativity to flow structurally.
Ralph Caplan, one of the world's most revered design consultants, explains that "Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous."
"Let empathy lead the way, from darkness to light."
The "what is" stage is where the design thinkers try to understand the current reality of the problem statement. Note that the definition can be as abstract or high-level as it is known to be. The "what is" stage encourages the thinkers to define the problem from their perspective and doesn't demand to take a deep dive. The "what is" stage expects the thinker to assume the posture of empathy towards the users and their problems.
After collecting various definitions of a problem, the design thinker moves into the next stage, "What if", where the thinker envisions the future through the solution to the problem statement. Like the problem definition, the "What if" stage doesn't demand exactness. "Quantity over Quality" - let the free ideas flow.
The gateway to good ideas is Bad ideas. The "what if" stage allows thinkers to throw any and every idea out there, and the ideas that resonate are considered.
Thinkers are encouraged to revisit the "what is" stage as often as they want as more is researched on the "what if". By reviewing the "what is" stage, Thinkers solidify the "novel ideas" and discard the ones that help the users the least. At the end of the "What if" stage, Thinkers arrive at several solid ideas based on critical assumptions.
Based on the abstract problem statement, generated ideas and assumptions, a design thinker moves into "What works", where various prototypes are readied and evaluated against all the abstract problem statements, arbitrary constraints and real constraints.
While evaluating "What works", the design thinker is critically aware that "what works" is not the eternal solution, and hence all the prototypes are subjected to various tests. As more is known and understood, "what is" and "what if" data are updated too.
The prototype closest to a working solution is selected and put into the "what Sustains" stage for aggressive testing. While testing, more will become apparent on the problem, solutions and prototype expectations. These are carefully collected and put under "What is", "what if", and "what works" buckets, thus establishing a continuous feedback loop.
For design thinking to succeed, it is necessary to make it about humans and build a solution for human-centric understanding and empathizing with the aspirations.