Design thinking isn’t the easiest thing to explain, partly because it’s something that’s best understood by doing, and also, as you’ll discover if you were to Google ‘what is design thinking’, different people have different definitions. But the definition that I’ve landed on and like to use is:
A creative and collaborative approach to innovating that puts people at the centre of the process
It’s an approach that can be used by anyone, without necessarily having formal design training, to solve problems and improve products and processes at a range of scales/complexities and in a range of different industries.
The process that the d.school teach break the process down into 5 modes – empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test. Rather than a strict linear process, these modes are kind of like interconnected Lego bricks that can be reordered in different ways.
Importantly, design thinking is as much a mindset as a process. Design thinking embodies collaboration, iteration, experimentation, prototyping, and bias toward action. Through design thinking, individuals and teams are encouraged and given the tools to discover and express creative solutions.
For a great overview and example of design thinking, check out this great video that the good folk at Daylight Design have put together.