What is Design Thinking? One of the challenges with introducing the concept of design thinking is that this concept does not have one agreed upon definition. Depending on the source you consult the definition defers slightly and the concept can be a bit elusive to understand. In an attempt to address this, I consulted 164 pieces of scholarly and popular literature on the topic to arrive at a short description of the concept. Below is how I answer the question, what is design thinking?

In a Nutshell: Design thinking is an iterative and collaborative approach to problem solving that is particularly effective when the issue at hand requires innovation and change. This process emphasizes balancing creative and analytical thinking and calls for shifting between generating ideas and quickly testing ideas to arrive at a final solution.

A Brief History: The concept of design thinking has its roots in design professions such as engineering and architecture. Simply put design professions are those professions that either create something new or transforms something that exists. The designers’ approach to problem solving is thought to be well suited for scenarios where innovative ideas are needed to create change. While design thinking has been a mainstream concept for about a decade, the idea has been around for nearly five decades.

In my research I found these six concepts to be central to engaging the design thinking process.

This by no means is a comprehensive explanation of design thinking but rather a short introduction to the topic. What is your experience with design thinking? What would you add to this list?


0034_croppedsmallAs a DESIGN THINKER Coach, Dr. Dani Chesson, teaches individuals and teams how to take a design thinking approach to achieve their full potential and generate the results they desire.  Dani is the creator of Chesson’s DESIGN THINKER PROFILE, an assessment instrument that measures design thinking capabilities.  Connect with Dani on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, follow her Blog or email her at dani@chessonconsulting.com


4 Responses

  1. Thank you Dr. Chesson for this meaningful contribution of strategies for organizational change. I very much appreciate your research and this section of your website that brings clarity to the concepts you are proposing. Well done!

Leave a Reply