Learning Objectives

6-1: Define design thinking.

Similar to The Practice of Entrepreneurship in many ways, design thinking is ultimately a constructive and collaborative process that merges the power of observation, synthesis, searching and generating alternatives, critical thinking, feedback, visual representation, creativity, problem solving, and value creation.

6-2: Demonstrate design thinking as a human-centered process focusing on customers and their needs.

Before business feasibility and economic sustainability are considered in the design process, entrepreneurs discover what people need. Products that achieve all three are bound to be the most successful, but the product or service must first be designed to provide a desired solution or fulfill a need for the design process to be considered human-centered.

6-3: Describe the role of empathy in the design-thinking process.

To create meaningful ideas and innovations, we need to know and care about the people who are using them. Developing our empathic ability enables us to better understand the way people do things and the reasons why; their physical and emotional needs; the way they think and feel; and what is important to them.

6-4: Illustrate the key parts of the design-thinking process.

The design-thinking process comprises three main overlapping phases: inspiration, ideation, and implementation.

6-5: Demonstrate how to observe and convert observation data to insights.

An insight in this sense is an interpretation of an event or observation that, importantly, provides new information or meaning. Observations can fall along one of nine different dimensions, and, like entrepreneurship, the ability to discern trends and patterns from each dimension is a skill that can be practiced and improved.

6-6: Demonstrate how to interview potential customers in order to better understand their needs.

Interviews should be done for two reasons: 1) to develop a better understanding of their needs during the inspiration phase of design thinking and 2) get feedback on ideas during the implementation phase. The interview must be well-prepared, the customer must be listened to and intelligent questions asked, and the interview must be evaluated when it is over.

6-7: Identify and describe other approaches to design thinking.

The authors of Designing for Growth suggest four questions that are useful to ask during the design-thinking process, all of which have periods of divergence and convergence. They are as follows: What is? What if? What Wows? What works?36 Another variation on the design-thinking process is from the Stanford Design School, which uses five phases: empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Design thinking can also be used to resolve wicked problems.