Design Thinking

70 years of design thinking

Design thinking follows a structure, one that places a strong emphasis on understanding and empathising with the end-users. The framework encourages collaborative thinking, learning by doing and iterating through solutions using evidence. Over the years, design thinking has been promoted by design agencies as being everyone’s responsibility. A design ‘mindset’ can now be adopted by anyone following the design thinking methods.

The term itself has a history dating back to the 1950s and 60s, but within our field of practice, the term has been popular since the 1990s. Agencies like IDEO broadened what was considered the boundaries of “design” and allowed designers the freedom to set the agenda. Through design thinking methodology, designers could tackle big problems by following an innovation process that had been refined over years.

There are a number of flexible frameworks that have emerged from design thinking. Each adaptation has developed to suit different contexts and industries. Some notable models include:

Design thinking is a method of problem solving that has its roots in the field of design but is now widely adopted across multiple industries. For some it is considered an overused term that represents a lengthy process, fixated on generating new ideas. For others, it is a collaborative framework rooted in user empathy, with the goal of solving genuine problems.

Double Diamond Model

Double diamond model diagram
The Double Diamond by the Design Council

Developed by the British Design Council, the Double Diamond model expands on the traditional design thinking model. It consists of four phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver, arranged in two diamond shapes. The first diamond represents divergent thinking (expanding possibilities), and the second represents convergent thinking (narrowing down to solutions).

Stanford University model

A diagram illustrating the Stanford University model
© Stanford d.School web, Public License. Source.

Originating from Stanford University's, this model consists of five stages: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. It emphasises the importance of empathy in understanding user needs and encourages rapid prototyping to iterate on solutions quickly.

3i model of IDEO

3i model of IDEO
© IDEO, Public License.

IDEO’s model roposes a simplified version with three phases: Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation. This model highlights the need to draw inspiration from various sources before generating ideas and eventually implementing solutions.

Hypothesis Driven Design

A diagram illustrating Hypothesis Driven DesignA diagram showing the design sprint process used at Furthermore

Combining principles from design thinking and lean startup methodologies, this approach focuses on reducing waste in the design process and quickly validating assumptions through experimentation and feedback loops. Hypothesis-driven design is an approach that integrates the principles of hypothesis testing with the design process. In traditional design thinking, the emphasis is often on empathising with users, ideation, and iterative prototyping. In hypothesis-driven design, there's a more explicit focus on formulating and testing hypotheses as a way to guide the design process. This approach is often associated with lean and agile methodologies, where rapid experimentation and feedback are crucial.

Need help with design thinking? Get in touch

We recommend that a design framework is used for all our new projects. At Furthermore we use these methodologies in various forms and as we do so we continue to iterate and refine the way we work with them. No two projects are ever the same, so get in touch to see how we will tailor the best methodology for your challenge and circumstances.

Get in touch with the team to discuss your idea, project or business.

workshop session for a service design project
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