Go Deeper

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an iterative approach to tackling innovation and challenges that is focused on People, and on helping create solutions that move organizations forward, that go beyond just solving a problem. Design Thinking Denver’s Design Guides take time to understand the people involved and the context in which they operate so we can adopt a solutions-based, rather than a problem-based approach to innovation.

We challenge assumptions through a philosophy of iterative questioning aimed at redefining the challenge so we can identify strategies and solutions that may not be instantly apparent, yet that address the underlying needs of the user. Design Thinking is about using cycles of creative divergence and strategic convergence to arrive at new and innovative solutions that are often surprising and always people-focused.
At a high-level, Design Thinking is about first ‘questioning the question’ and understanding your users (diverging), then iteratively selecting opportunities with the greatest impact (converging) before moving on to the development and prototyping or testing of solutions.

We do this by first taking the initial challenge you’re experiencing or the innovation you’re trying to create and exploring the space to ensure we really understand the context and situation. A key aspect of the co-creative approach is that it affords the people who will be involved in the solutioning process to share perspectives and insights and truly come to appreciate various aspects of, or perspectives on, the situation of which they may otherwise be unaware. We first focus on making sure we are asking the right question…because great answers to the wrong questions don’t move organizations forward.

We use activities designed to move the group forward in a cohesive fashion by identifying shared perspectives. We then use ideation exercises to help expand the realm of the possible and open the solution space aperture. By leveraging research conducted up-front, we’re able to help people come up with big ideas for how to improve their products and processes to delight their customers. These activities get people to think big.
Next, we apply business viability and technical feasibility filters to determine what’s possible and impactful…and can actually be accomplished. Design Thinking is not about just coming up with great ideas – they need to be implementable to make an impact.

We do this is by prototyping and refining – whether it’s a physical product, a service or a process, prototyping enables us to make small investments (of money, time, and other resources) to validate the concepts before moving on to full-scale implementation. As we successfully iterate, we move on to implementation. With our co-creative approach, successful implementation is more likely because the people involved in implementing the change have developed shared understandings and participated in developing the solution…because people can find change painful when done to them, but empowering and exciting when done by them.