By Blog, Innovation

Design Thinking Process: A Framework for Innovation

Photo by Matt Palmer / Unsplash

The Design Thinking Process is a process of creative problem solving with an emphasis on design principles. Design thinking has a strong human-centric core. It promotes companies to focus on the individuals that they are creating for, which results in better products, services, and overall internal processes. Design thinking encompasses the entire gamut of design from product design to cultural design to landscape design to social design. It can be applied to almost any industry.

Design Thinking is a flexible process, allowing innovation to occur along with process improvement. It is not a one-size-fits-all process. Rather it is an evolving process with design thinking leading the way. A design thinking approach fosters creativity, problem-solving, humility, authenticity, adaptability, effectiveness, quality, and teamwork.

The key to a successful design thinking process is to establish design goals and guidelines early in the design process. These goals and guidelines provide clear directions on what must be created when it will be made, who will design it, and why. The use of constraints forces the designer to think in three dimensions: What does this design serve? Who will benefit from its creation? Where do we see it fitting in?

Designers must also be able to identify the intended audience during the design thinking process. The design thinking process needs to be segmented based on the identification of audiences, who are likely to use the product, to understand its content, how it will be used, what kind of people it will appeal to, what its technical specification will be, etc. Empathy is also very important in this process. The purpose of empathy is to relate with others on their level. By empathizing with others, the designer will have a greater understanding of how they perceive the design and what they want to gain from its use.


The process of design thinking, therefore, needs to start with identification – the need for design thinking starts with the identification of the customer, the individual, or the group that will benefit from the design. Identification requires defining and describing who we are, our needs, and our beliefs. This is often done through the identification of the customer profile or through defining and documenting organizational roles and responsibilities. Identification-based design thinking drives the next step, creating a design for a solution to a problem.

Problem-solving-focused-empathy and design thinking combine to make the problem-solving process more effective. Problems are usually identified based on the needs identified during the identification-the process is then directed towards providing solutions. Empathy is very important in the problem-solving process. The key is to identify what the potential customers need, how the problems can be addressed, and to align the design thinking with these solutions. Another aspect of problem-solving-focused design thinking is the organization’s ability to conduct case studies.

Case Studies-oriented design thinking drives innovation by developing and refining design concepts. Each concept that is refined yields test cases. Designers use test cases to evaluate design concepts and to build user acceptance. Once test cases are complete, designers can incorporate design concepts into actual product designs. The process is therefore driven by the continuous cycle of problem-solving and design concept adoption, with each phase of the design thinking process contributing value to the design concept.

Design Thinking is clearly essential to business today. Although many design thinking processes are evolving, the critical design thinking process described above is clearly one of the most important. Many design thinking process models have evolved, but none can compete with the results documented above. When purchasing a new company or starting a new business, it is worth investigating whether the design thinking framework fits your needs and goals.

Video by IDEO U