In today’s business landscape innovation has become one of the most important success rate factors, and the design thinking is one of the methods to achieve it. It goes well beyond the plain “look & feel” of an object: it is actually a state of the art problem-solving methodology

The challenges of modern business, it’s global and cross-industry aspect urged for new problem solving frameworks, capable of producing the extraordinary solutions. Design thinking offered a win-win strategy:  “a customer-centric design, that is all about looking out from the inside—rather than outside in”.[1]

This article brings the basics of Design thinking and some examples of its functioning.

What is Design Thinking?

Design as a way of thinking is a concept originated in Herbert A. Simon’s 1969 book “The Sciences of the Artificial”,  and in Robert McKim’s 1973 book “Experiences in Visual Thinking”.  In the 1980s and 1990s it was introduced at Stanford University, as a “method of creative action”, and it was finally adapted for business purposes by Stanford professor David M. Kelley, who founded a design firm IDEO in 1991, that became the synonym for the applied design thinking.

It is best defined by Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

The Design Thinking process starts from defining the problem and then implementing the solutions, keeping in mind always the customer’s needs.  The main focus is these 5 simple actions: need finding, understanding, creating, thinking, and doing. The core concepts are action and creation: by creating and testing something, you can continue to learn and improve upon your initial ideas.[2]

Discover how the process functions in IDEO, during the shopping cart redesign project:

IDEO deep dive from lee on Vimeo.


5 steps of Design Thinking


Let’s take a closer look into each step of the process:

EMPATHIZE: Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.

DEFINE: Process and synthesize the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.

IDEATE: Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.

PROTOTYPE: Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.

TEST: Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view.[3]

Some of the multinational companies that are using design thinking are GE, P&G and IBM, the latter explained in this video below “IBM Design Thinking and Agile”.

Here in Neomobile, as a part of our learning culture, we are introducing the design thinking as a preferable problem-solving method. During our Learning week in December 2015 our coaches Fabio Armani and Paolo Sammicheli, held several Design thinking courses in our HQ, and you can check out the picture gallery below.


Check out our Gallery on Facebook with more images.




[2] and [3]