Definitions of design thinking

September 7, 2008 — 55 Comments

In my HBR article I gave a ‘definition’ of design thinking. It was:

Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.

On reflection this is a narrow description that focuses on design thinking’s role within business. The next sentence that I wrote.“….design thinking converts need into demand” , which I borrowed from Peter Drucker, broadens things out a bit but still assumes an economic motivation.

I am grappling with two questions as I think about this.

1. Is there a general definition of design thinking?

2. Is it useful to have one?

Tim Brown

Posts

55 comments on “Definitions of design thinking

  1. Hi Tim,
    I love the whole concept on desgin thinking, I am learning about this is my innovation change class. However, my question is what organization/s that has successfully inovated products/services using desgin thinking.

    Thank you
    Kathy

  2. A definition can be given if some rules can be applied. So the question is , what rules can we apply in order to use the imaginary part of our brain .

  3. Hi Tim,

    My view of the definition below……the problem – solution approach and the application of the principles to drive greater good through current and emerging technologies, beyond just the business opportunity……and trying to improving our world.

    Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to understand the problems that people and society are dealing with.

    Design thinking helps discover unmet needs, anticipates and matches people’s needs with what is [and what could be] technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value, market opportunity and social good.

  4. Design thinking for me is a simple solution to problems that are perceived to be complex. As designers we tend to break down the problem to it’s seed and build up from there on, eliminating the unnecessary and transforming the remaining vital parts into an aesthetic thought or product. A process aiming towards simplification & provision of a product or service whose benefits can be explained in a sentence.
    So to answer your question, I do think it’s useful to have a general definition for design thinking, though a broader design thinking theory will find itself adapting to economic and social situations.

  5. To me Design Thinking means, ‘do not think like a designer’ and keep trying so. Fix a probable deadline >> try to unearth the best >> sell it >> sit back to make it better … natures theory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

HTML tags are not allowed.