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What I Understand Now About Design Thinking

When I first started the module of Design Thinking for Startups I have to be honest, I didn’t really understand what it was. I knew it had something to with business, but I have never heard of it before. Or so I thought…

I have a friend in Paraguay, Alberto, who did his masters in User Centered Design in the US. He is in the IT field, so I assumed what he studied had something to do with software and computers. It actually did. He started doing this workshops about user centered design for apps and softwares. I understood a bit that it had something to do about putting the user first and designing your app so that it is user-friendly, let’s say, easy to use. I wasn’t wrong, but little did I know, design thinking was so much more than that.

Usually when read the words design thinking we immediately associate it with designers. Although it does use the approach as the way designers create, Design Thinking is actually a methodology that tries to innovate by using our innate creative abilities to look at problems in a different way. It’s a whole new way of tackling a business. Hagerman (2017) points out that this method has been implemented in “some of the world’s most important organisations and governments”.

If design thinking is about creativity, it seems that it can only relate to the arts, or that can only be used by creative people. Yet this is another misconception. Tom and David Kelley address in their book Creative Confidence (2015) that we have all the capacity and the ability to be creative no matter our backgrounds or fields. Creativity is a natural capacity within us, the problem is, sometimes it gets blocked.

I believe this happens maybe because of the fast lives that we are living. Everything is automatic, everything we do every day is just the same. I fell that way sometimes, I feel that my creativity sometimes gets pushed aside because we need to be functional and live by some rules already established and we can’t or we shouldn’t think differently, because whatever it is, it has been that way for some time and it must be working for a reason.

What we miss with these concepts is that creativity can sparkle change. Kelley (2015) believes that when we unblock creativity a world of possibilities appear and we can learn from every challenge and every problem in front of us.

The main characteristic of design thinking is that it is a human-centered approach. And it has two layers. First, it solves a problem. May it be a service or a product or a project, it has to solve a problem that will give its user a solution. This is already a head start for our business, since we already know people need something that we are offering. The second layer I see as to why it is human-centered is the way companies solves these problems. The problem-solving involve all areas and every department, it takes into account “employees’ insights from across the organisation” (Kelley, 2015). By putting on the table people’s different skills and talents it creates a much broader vision of the problem and how to solve it for the better. This also gives employees the confidence to feel important and experiment with different solutions.

The last part of the design thinking method is that you should learn by testing. This means that you should test your product or service and make the changes if needed. But these doesn’t mean spending years in perfecting it, it means putting it out there in a beta mode as soon as possible. This will help companies save money.

First, by prototyping and testing, you learn what is working and what needs to change in an early stage. Or you could learn that users actually don’t want what you are offering. Learning this in the early stages will save time and money.

If feels very exciting to use our creative abilities to solve problems not only in our businesses but also to apply this method in our everyday life. I agree with Kelley (2014) when he says that “innovation can be both fun and rewarding”.

During a TED talk, author David Kelley, gave a great example about how we can apply creativity in every field.

Let’s unleash our creative selves.



Kelley, T., and Kelley, D. (2015). Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all. Harper Collins.

Hagerman, Andy (October 9, 2017). Spotting the Patterns: 2017 Trends in Design Thinking (Accessed: 18 November 2017).

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