Design Thinking: what is it and how to implement it?

You may have already heard about the Design Thinking methodology. The name is famous in the corporate world and was popularized by Stanford University professor David Kelley and his colleague Tim Brown, CEO of the American design consultancy, IDEO.

But do you know what Design Thinking is and how to use it to bring innovation to the company you work for?

Keep reading and learn more!

What is Design Thinking?

The methodology can be explained as a collaborative way of thinking about solutions in a people-centered way. In other words, the idea is that, when creating products or services, always ask the following question: what is the human need behind this solution?

“Design Thinking is a human-centric approach to innovation that builds on the designer’s toolkit to integrate people’s needs, technology possibilities and requirements for business success.” – Tim Brown

The method consists of:

● Search

● Creation

● Application

These steps are geared towards the needs of users, developed as a team, based on empathy, creativity, and reason, to overcome the most varied challenges.

What is the process?

The Design Thinking process can be divided into five steps:

  1. Understanding

At this stage, a survey is carried out based on the people who will benefit from the solution. For this, an immersion in the reality of these people is necessary to understand their needs, their culture, and reality.

The research phase can take place in different ways: through interviews with users and even through observation and monitoring of the routine.

2. Definition

When professionals define the challenge to be overcome based on what they observed in the research phase, considering all the needs that must be met in the solution.

3. Ideation

In this phase, a multidisciplinary team comes together to create freely.

It is at this stage that ideas emerge from conversations and famous brainstorming meetings.

4. Prototyping

After analyzing all the ideas suggested in the previous phase, the most interesting or most recurrent ones are chosen to be tested.

5. Test

After choosing the best ideas, it’s time to put them into practice and test them. At this stage, these ideas are employed, and it is observed which ones make the most sense and best meet the needs raised.

How to put it into practice?

To start the process, it is necessary to understand that it is not linear, as the steps do not necessarily happen in a specific order. It is possible to transition between steps or change the order if it makes the project more agile. There is no set rule.

Design Thinking can be applied by leadership in the most diverse areas within a company, whether in the creation of products, services, content, to improve projects and even develop new business models.

As it is a process based on empathy and creativity, it is important to involve different people, from different areas, positions, and visions.

Why use Design Thinking in my company?

With Design Thinking, it is possible to bring together innovation and organization, to develop solutions that meet the client’s needs and solve complex challenges, in a joint, creative, and practical way, by a multidisciplinary team, which avoids unpleasant surprises during the project.

In addition, the methodology promotes efficient communication, so that projects have well-defined stages, which makes them easier to execute. Even if there is no 100% defined order of execution of these steps, the entire team knows the process and can manage the development of projects.

Another advantage of Design Thinking is that the methodology includes practice tests and observation of results based on data during the process. Thus, it is possible to understand, with the exercise of empathy, what best fits the client’s needs and, in this way, to understand throughout the process, through A/B tests, for example, what works best.


Now that you know what Design Thinking is, you see how the methodology works and how you can improve your projects, how about improving yourself and stand out in the job market?

Discover the California State University Design Thinking & Innovation course and spend three weeks in California learning about strategy development tools, implementing original ideas, and innovative experiences in organizations, learning from Ph.D. professors, in practical classes, with case studies about the subject.

On top of all that, visit renowned companies to have first-hand insights from American executives and study in a class with academics from all over the world!

You can join the next groups, in July 2022 or January 2023, and still participate in the selection process for partial scholarships.

Learn more about CSUN and the course and register.


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