Core principles of design thinking

Published on January 31, 2024   8 min

A selection of talks on Management, Leadership & Organisation

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Hello. My name is Meg Konkel and I am an Associate Professor of Design Thinking at Radford University.
Today I want to talk with you about design thinking. It's actually quite tricky to pin down exactly what design thinking is, how we do it, and what it does for us. In this talk, I'll give you a range of definitions of design thinking from leaders in business, innovation and design, and use those definitions to explore core underlying principles, not only of what one does when practicing design thinking, but how it shapes how we think about problem solving.
We'll start with a definition that is grounded in business and innovation. David Kelley is an American designer, business person, and educator. He co-founded the innovation and design firm IDEO, and he was integral to the establishment of the d. School at Stanford University. He and his brother Tom define design thinking as "a way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and the mindsets of design practitioners." They follow by saying "design thinking is a methodology that when we follow it, can address a wide range of personal, social, and business challenges in creative new ways." In this one definition, we can see the complexity of design thinking. It is a toolkit or a set of methods. It's a mindset or a way of looking at the world. It's also a methodology or a process that has a certain structure and sequence to it.
Lucy Kimbell makes an important point in this definition of design thinking, that it is a human centered practice as opposed to a technology or an organization centered one. Let's think about that a bit. In design thinking, the human experience drives decision making. This is crucial to understanding what design thinking is all about. It centers itself on the human, more so than on the particular limitations or opportunities of technology or the organizational characteristics that distinguish one company from another. Design thinking is human- centered, creative problem-solving. Yet despite this complexity,