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Common Misconceptions of Design Thinking

The phases of design thinking

Design thinking, a term coined by IDEO’s David Kelley, refers to a set of three principles that can create a successful path to innovation and solve complex problems. These three principles are inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Rather than following the rigid, traditional structure of business that can negatively impact innovation by promoting rationality over creativity, design thinking is a holistic approach to business that integrates both logic and creativity together. Sadly, design thinking is still not a mainstream practice and companies can be reluctant to adopt design thinking in their ventures. So why would companies be reluctant to adopt such a promising technique for innovation? Because they believe some of these common misconceptions of design thinking:

  1. One common misconception of design thinking is that it is an abandonment of good business thinking, ignoring rationality and analysis. However, in reality, design thinking, unlike the traditional business structure, was developed to foster innovation and innovation must occur to move forwards.

  2. Another common misconception of design thinking is that, in relying so heavily on feedback from the target community and giving the community such a large voice, design thinking will fail because you will simply receive negative feedback. In reality, the community likely wants you to succeed because they realize that they can benefit from your solution. So, while contstruvtive feedback should be encouraged in an effort to determine the greatest solution, overwhelmintly negative feedback rarely occurs. If you do recieve negative feedback during the design thinking process. You can address these concerns early on in the process and realise any flaws or objections to your project before investing too many resources into the launch.

  3. Another common misconeption of design thinking that many traditionally structured businesses recite is that it is doomed because it is human-centered. They argue that people often do not know what they want. To that misconception I say: you cannot understand the needs of your community without talking to them. Talking about the needs you are trying to address with the people who will be impacted by them is of the utmost necessity.

  4. Finally, another common misconception of design thinking is that it moves too quickly without doing proper product testing or developing something of high quality. While design thinking does involve rapidly developing prototypes of possible solutions, that necessity comes with good reason. Design thinking is fundamentally different from other ways of meeting challenges in that it is human-centered. As desribed previously, this human-centered nature means that you must truly attempt to understand how the product will effect a range of people. This desire to understand necessites the rapid production of prototypes so that the designers can get feedback as quickly as possible and alter the solution as necessary.

Much resistence to design thinking comes from not fully understanding the process, or being afraid to put power in the hands of communities rather than companies or leaders. Looking into examples of design thinking projects like the creation of a sleeping bag to warm low-birth-weight newborns in Nepal, the implementation of cooking classes in several Quong Xuong communities to resolve the problem of malnourishment in children, and the transformation of life insurance to reorient around the customer can help ease some worries that organisations may have about adapting a design thinking approach.

Have you experienced resistance to adopting a design thinking mindset? How did you handle the situation? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

If you’re ready to start your next design thinking project, head over to this page to learn how WE THINQ can help you use design thinking effectively.