Introduction: Design thinking – what is it?

Design thinking has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to solve problems. There are many different design thinking models, but they all share a common goal: to come up with creative solutions to problems. This article will explore the different models and how they can be used to solve problems.

Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving. It is often used in business and design, but can be applied to any area where innovation is desired. It begins with an understanding of the user or customer. From there, empathy is used to generate new ideas that solve the user’s problem. The next step is to prototype the solution and test it with users. This iterative process continues until the best possible solution is found.

Design thinking has been shown to lead to more innovative and user-friendly solutions than traditional methods. It encourages out-of-the-box thinking and allows for multiple iterations before settling on a final product. This makes it an ideal method for businesses and organisations who want to promote creativity and innovation.

The history of Design Thinking

The history of design thinking can be traced back to the early 20th century, when designers began to focus on the user experience. This focus on the user led to the development of various methods for analysing and improving the usability of products. In the 1980s and 1990s, these methods were formalised into a discipline known as human-centered design.

In recent years, design thinking has become increasingly popular as a tool for solving complex problems in a variety of fields. It is often described as a creative, iterative process that begins with an understanding of the needs of the people who will be using a product or service. From there, designers generate ideas and rapidly prototype them in order to gather feedback and refine their designs.

This iterative process continues until a final solution is reached that meets the needs of users while also being feasible and affordable to produce.

The process of design thinking

Design thinking is a process for solving problems that emphasises creative and innovative solutions. It is a popular approach to problem-solving that has been used by companies such as Google, Apple, and IDEO. The steps of design thinking are:

  • Empathise with the user
  • Define the problem
  • Ideate possible solutions
  • Prototype the most promising solution
  • Test with users.

Design thinking has its roots in the design field, but it can be applied to any type of problem-solving. The key element of this process is empathy for the user. This means understanding the users’ needs and requirements. Once the problem is understood, possible solutions can be ideated. These solutions are then prototyped and tested with users to get feedback.

Design Thinking Models

There are now several different models of design thinking, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Stanford University model

The Stanford University design thinking model is a five-stage process that encourages iterative thinking in order to come up with creative solutions to problems. The stages are: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. This model can be used in a variety of settings, from businesses to schools.

Design thinking has been shown to be an effective way to solve problems and generate new ideas. The Stanford model is one of the most popular design thinking models out there. If you’re looking for a creative way to approach problem-solving, this could be the perfect model for you.

IDEO model

The IDEO design thinking model is a framework that can be used by designers to help them think about the design process. It is composed of five phases: ideation, prototyping, testing, implementation, and evaluation. Each phase has its own set of activities and methods that can be used to help guide the design process.

  • The first phase, ideation, is the most important part of the model. It is where ideas are generated and developed. In this phase, designers are encouraged to think outside the box and come up with as many ideas as they can.
  • The next phase is prototyping, which involves making a model or mock-up of the design idea. This phase helps designers evaluate their ideas and see how the design will function.
  • The third phase, testing, is a time for real-world testing. Here, designers can observe how people react to their designs and find out if it works as expected.
  • The fourth phase is implementation, where the design is brought to completion and put into use. In this phase, designers have to focus on making the design as cost effective and efficient as possible.
  • The final phase, documentation, is a time for designers to summarise their findings and share it with others.

Google Design Sprint

The Google Design Sprint model is a framework for rapidly prototyping and testing products. It was developed by Google Ventures, and has been used by companies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Slack. The sprint consists of five days of intense work, during which a team of designers, developers, and product managers prototype and test a new product or feature. The goal is to learn as much as possible about the users and the problem that the product is trying to solve. 

  • The first day of the sprint is dedicated to understanding the problem that the product is trying to solve. The team identifies the user’s needs and what they are trying to achieve with the product. They also identify any risks or assumptions that need to be tested. 
  • On the second day, the team comes up with potential solutions to the problem.
  • On the third day, there is a discussion about the different solutions, and the team decides on one solution.
  • The fourth day is dedicated to building the solution.
  • On the fifth day, there is a presentation of the product with feedback from users and stakeholders.

Lean UX Model

The Lean UX model is a user-centric approach to designing and developing digital products. It emphasizes the need to focus on the user’s needs and wants, rather than on the technology or the business.

The Lean UX model was developed by Jeff Gothelf, who is also the author of the book “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience”. In his book, Gothelf advocates for a more user-centric approach to product design and development. He believes that too often, businesses get caught up in their own agendas and forget about what users actually want or need.

Gothelf’s Lean UX model has four main principles: 1) user experience is more important than technology; 2) business goals are secondary to user needs; 3) design should be iterative; and 4) testing should be continuous.

AC4D Model

The AC4D model is a user-centered design approach that can be used to solve complex problems. It is based on the principle that all users should be involved in the design process from the beginning. The AC4D model has four steps:

1. Analysis: In this step, designers analyze the problem and gather data about the users.

2. Conceptualization: In this step, designers generate ideas and concepts for solutions.

3. Development: In this step, designers develop a prototype of the solution.

4. Deployment: In this step, designers deploy the solution and test it with users.

This in addition to other models like Double Diamond Model, Professor Jeanne Liedtka Model, Frog 2, and Journalism.

The benefits of using design thinking

Design thinking has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to solve problems. There are many benefits to using this method, including the following:

1. It encourages creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. This can help lead to solutions that wouldn’t be found using traditional methods.

2. It helps to build empathy for those who will be using the product or service being designed. This allows for a better understanding of their needs and how best to meet them.

3. It also takes into account the user experience, which is essential for creating products and services that people will actually want to use.

4. It is a valuable tool for teams that need to collaborate and work together to solve problems.

5. It’s also a great way for organisations to bring in fresh perspectives, which can be invaluable when solving complex issues. 6.

Overall, design thinking is an excellent way to approach problem-solving, and can lead to some truly innovative solutions.


Design thinking is a process that helps people solve problems. However, there are some drawbacks to using this method.

  • One drawback is that it can be time-consuming. This is because the process involves a lot of brainstorming and trial and error. This can be a problem when you are trying to solve a problem quickly.
  • Another drawback is that it can be difficult to get started. This is because you need to have an open mind and be willing to try new things. This can be hard for some people who are used to thinking in a linear way.
  • Lastly, it can sometimes lead to sub-optimal solutions. This is because the focus is on the process, not the outcome. This can be a problem if you are looking for the best possible solution to a problem.


In conclusion, Design Thinking is a new way of solving problems that has been proven to be successful. It is a creative and collaborative process that begins with understanding the user, defining the problem, and then finding creative solutions. It is a powerful tool that can be used to solve complex problems.

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