Empathize. The first stage of Design Thinking aims to “gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.” It is the crUX of the entire framework and requires thinkers to set aside their own presuppositions in order to gain insight into the needs of end users.
Define. During the Define stage, Design Thinkers will begin to synthesize the information gathered during the previous stage and define the core problems to be addressed — compiled into a “human-centered problem statement.”
Ideate. After having sufficiently analyzed their observations and defined their problem statements, thinkers will utilize various Ideation techniques — i.e. brainstorming and SCAMPER —to “think outside the box” and identify novel solutions.
Prototype. At this point, a number of inexpensive and watered-down versions of the end product will be produced in order to identify the best possible solutions for the problems identified in the first three stages of the process.
Test. During the final stage of the model, the prototypes are tested and refinements are made to “rule out problem solutions and derive as deep an understanding of the product and its users as possible.”
All of that sounds well and good. So, what’s wrong with it? Well, as far as the general approach behind Design Thinking — absolutely nothing.
The five steps of Design Thinking are all fairly commonplace and non-controversial. Everyone should be incorporating these principles into their businesses.
Regardless of the particular Design Thinking framework used, all share an emphasis on the end-user (or customer), the consideration of multiple ideas or prototypes, and the gathering of useful feedback through testing.
Design Thinking has had such a relatively-long shelf life — as far as business trends are concerned — because the fundamental tenets it preaches are sound, useful, and viable.