What is design thinking? It can be challenging to come up with a good explanation for the term “design thinking”. Perhaps it could best be seen as a way of thinking or as a lens through which problems are viewed. Often when we encounter a problem, we rush to solve it without stopping to think about the root causes of the problem. Hastening to find a solution to a problem often does not lead to fruitful results. Design thinking is specifically the reflection and consideration of a problem: when the problem can be truly understood, it is more likely that there will be the possibility to find a workable and high-quality solution. What comes to considering the solutions, you need to think carefully about why the solution is being made. Only doing something for the sake of doing is not enough.

Love the problem

“If you can describe the problem, you can also solve it”

Design thinking is about feeling comfortable with the process of solving potential issues. It’s also about looking at the issues from different perspectives. For example, how does the dilemma look like from the perspective of the service provider, the customer, or the stakeholders? When the problem is approached from many directions, we are at the heart of design thinking.

So design thinking is a method to help come up with different ways to solve challenges. Let’s look at it through an example: a company wants to grow its business. The first solution, for example, might be to set up e-commerce. In reality, however, there may be numerous other solutions, and the first idea that comes to mind is not necessarily the best one. In this case, setting up e-commerce could not be the best option for growing a business. This is why it’s important to spend time on problem-solving and on thinking of different options for the best outcome.

What customer should understand about design thinking?

Luckily, not much. The most important thing is to be curious about the problem and solving the potential issues, as well as committing to the process. At Sofokus, we help you understand everything you need, whether it’s explaining what is design thinking or something else.

Design thinking is usually performed in a way of workshops. In the workshops, we force ourselves to think about the problems and the solutions via different templates and tasks. Workshops can involve, for example, 6–10 people. Participants must have an interest in the matter to be resolved, as well as appropriate tools to make the potential solutions happen in their organization.

There can be for example 4–6 workshops depending on the problem. After the workshops, the solutions can be implemented by the client itself, or the responsibility for solving the problem is transferred entirely to external professionals. However, design thinking is always a creative process where there may not be a clear result. The process begins with a vague situation and ends when something new or different has been tried. Sometimes new ideas and methods are found to work and the problem is solved, but sometimes the creative process just ends, which is not a bad result either. The ending is also a result.

Design thinking is a filter for solutions

Often when solving a problem, numerous smaller problems can emerge as well as a lot of possible solutions. Design thinking aims to outline which problems or solutions are most relevant and realistic. After the relevant problem is recognized, the aim is to reach a comprehensive agreement on the situation and the details involved. Everyone related to the problem and its solving needs to be on the same page.

Often a key factor in a successful design thinking workshop is the facilitator that is outside of the organization. The facilitator makes sure that everyone is heard, and it is easier when the facilitator is from the outside. Often, an outsider is also able to see the problem and situations from a different perspective revealing something that would not necessarily be noticed from within the organization.

All in all, design thinking is a creative process where the goal is to find the right solutions to the right problem.

For our Finnish audience, we have a podcast episode about what is design thinking. You can listen to Jotain tolkkua -podcast episode about design thinking here.