Welcome to our guide on design thinking and impact. Design thinking is a concept that can be used across a variety of design endeavours, such as services, products, experiences, and social interventions. By reading this guide you will:
Before diving into the guide, let’s define a few concepts that you may have or will come across as you access a variety of resources available to you.
Design thinking: an iterative process to solve problems that keeps people at the centre of every process. When creating a solution, whether a product, service, or internal process, the first question to ask is: what’s the human need behind it?
Human-centred design: an approach to problem solving that involves the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. The end solutions are tailor made to suit the needs of the people that are being designed for.
Iterative Process: the process of testing out products/services at an early stage to receive feedback from end-users to improve given their needs. This process allows us to adjust our services and products to suit the needs of the end-users.
Empathy: the heart of human-centered design is empathy. You need to understand who you are designing for. The more we understand and empathize with our audience, the better solutions we’ll be able to create. Watch the short video below to get a good understanding.
Ambiguity: The next concept that is CRUCIAL for folks to understand and be comfortable navigating is ambiguity.
Early references to Design Thinking originated in the aftermath of WWII, which had a deep effect on the way engineers, scientists, and creatives approached problem solving and strategic thinking. Throughout the 50s and 60s, there were efforts made to apply a scientific methodology to the field of design in order to understand and overcome the human and environmental challenges that could not be solved through other means.
Go over our list of courses available at different universities and online, as well as our list of organizations working in the space to get started!
It is important to recognize that design is a powerful tool that holds a lot of privilege in terms of the influence it can have on the media, urban planning, and economic systems around the world. Similar to other structures of power, design can be used to uphold systems oppression (capitalism, patriarchy, heteronormativity) or be used to lift marginalized voices and communities by engaging and designing solutions with them.
Below are the 10 ways designers can support social justice by the Design Justice Network.
– Design Justice Network
In this section you’ll see frameworks, case studies, and tools professionals apply in the field of design thinking. A case study spotlight will follow so you can see how some of these frameworks are applied in real life!
Read a summary about each type below and visit their website for more details!
The Stanford d.school is one of the biggest players in the space and they have developed many wonderful resources to take you through the design thinking journey, no matter where you’re at! Below are the 5 steps they follow to start the process:
Immerse yourself into the physical environment of the problem that is trying to be solved. Observe and engage with the end-user to understand their experience and motivation.
Compile the information gathered during the empathize stage, analyze and synthesize observations in order to define the core issues in a problem statement.
Brainstorm as many new solutions to the problem statement as possible.
Produce a number of inexpensive versions of the final product or service for a test group of end users to trial. The team should have a better idea of the problems present and how users would behave, think, and feel when interacting with the final product.
Rigorous testing of the complete product using the best prototypes from the stage before.
As a leading design thinking firm, IDEO has developed frameworks and resources to support new and experienced designers. Below are the three steps they follow in their process and a case study to exemplify all of them!
”Black women in the U.S—regardless of class or education—are 2‑to‑3 times more likely to die during childbirth and 60% more likely to have a premature baby than their white counterparts. The fight for Birth Justice is the fight for Black and Brown women to have the pregnancy they want, deserve, and have been systematically excluded from. The UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative looked to IDEO.org to help build their momentum and amplify their impact.” – IDEO
Interviews and co-design sessions with mothers, fathers, grandparents, caregivers, preconception women, doctors, nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, community leaders, organizers, educators, and birth justice experts.
Voices for Birth Justice was launched as a public awareness campaign in honor of World Prematurity Day in 2019.
We hope you’ll continue learning about this space on your own, with friends and school. Check out these additional resources below to help guide you: