Thinking Backwards

(2 minute read, 27-minute watch)

What is design thinking? The term, made popular by IDEO’s David Kelley, is the process of creating new and innovative ideas and solving problems. This may sound like nothing new, but at the core of design thinking is a concept not typically employed in problem-solving: empathy. 


With the goal to understand and solve a problem for the consumer, design thinking encourages businesses to put themselves in the shoes of consumers to fully understand them and to fully understand the problem. This allows the corporation to gain empathy. Once they are immersed in the consumer’s point of view, they are properly suited to go about solving the problem with a human-centered solution. 

For example, Doug Dietz of GE attended a design thinking workshop at David Kelley’s at Stanford, and was inspired to look into the user experience with the machines he designed. Dietz noticed a problem with the MRI machines used with kids. They were terrified of the machine and almost always had to be sedated to achieve a clear scan, adding unnecessary risk and cost. By gaining this empathy for the younger patients, he was able to develop a human-centered solution: with some paint, scents, and a story, the big scary machines became a submarine or a pirate ship, making it an adventure for the kids rather than a terrifying experience.


Design thinking is not only for designers - it can be utilized by anyone wanting to solve a problem. Paired with a viable business strategy, design thinking opens both the creative and analytic sides of your brain to create solutions meant to benefit your consumers, and therefore your company, for the better. 

If you'd like to hear David Kelley speak more on design thinking and creative confidence, enjoy the below video from Creative Mornings New York (27:17).

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