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case studies of design thinking

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5 Examples of Design Thinking in Business

Business team engaging in design thinking

Design thinking has become a business buzzword that’s changed how companies approach problem-solving . Countless brands, including GE Healthcare, Netflix, and UberEats, have utilized design thinking to develop effective solutions to challenges.

What Is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a user-centric, solutions-based approach to problem-solving that can be described in four stages :

The four stages of the design thinking process: clarify, ideate, develop, and implement

Examples of Design Thinking

What does a properly executed design thinking process look like? Examining real-world examples is an effective way to answer that question. Here are five examples of well-known brands that have leveraged design thinking to solve business problems.

1. GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare is an example of a company that focused on user-centricity to improve a product that seemingly had no problems.

Diagnostic imaging has revolutionized healthcare, yet GE Healthcare saw a problem in how pediatric patients reacted to procedures. Many children were observed crying during long procedures in cold, dark rooms with flickering fluorescent lights. Considering this, GE Healthcare’s team observed children in various environments, spoke to experts, and interviewed hospital staff to gain more insight into their experiences.

After extensive user research, hospital pilots, and reiteration, GE Healthcare launched the “Adventure Series.” This redesign initiative focused on making magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines more child-friendly.

For example, the “Pirate Adventure” transforms MRI machines from dark, black holes to pirate ships with scenery of beaches, sandcastles, and the ocean. By empathizing with children’s pain points, GE Healthcare was able to craft a creative solution that was not only fun but increased patient satisfaction scores by 90 percent. This also yielded unexpected successes, including improved scan quality of pediatric patients, and ultimately saved customers time and resources.

Design thinking not only succeeds at finding effective solutions for companies but also at putting initiatives to the test before implementation.

When Oral B wanted to upgrade its electric toothbrush, it enlisted designers Kim Colin and Sam Hecht to help. The company’s request was to add more functions for electric toothbrush users, such as tracking brushing frequency, observing gum sensitivity, and playing music.

While clarifying the problem, however, Colin and Hecht pointed out that brushing teeth was a neurotic act for many people. Users didn’t want additional functionality and, in many cases, thought it could potentially cause more stress. Instead, they recommended two solutions that could improve user experience without adding gimmicks.

Their first recommendation was to make the toothbrush easier to charge, especially while users were on the road. Another was making it more convenient for users to order replacement heads by allowing toothbrushes to connect to phones and send reminder notifications. Both proposals were successful because they focused on what users wanted rather than what the company wanted to roll out.

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Although many companies have successfully used design thinking, Netflix has repeatedly leveraged it to become an industry giant. During the company’s inception, its main competitor, Blockbuster, required customers to drive to brick-and-mortar stores to rent DVDs. The process was the same for returns, which was a major pain point for many. Netflix eliminated that inconvenience by delivering DVDs directly to customers’ homes with a subscription model.

While this revolutionized the movie industry, Netflix’s real success has been in its innovation over the years. For example, when the company realized DVDs were becoming outdated, it created an on-demand streaming service to stay ahead of the curve. This also inadvertently eliminated the inconvenience of having to wait for DVDs.

Subsequently, in 2011, Netflix took its design thinking one step further and responded to customers’ need for original, provocative content that wasn’t airing on traditional networks. Later, in 2016, it improved its user experience by adding short trailers to its interface. Each of Netflix’s major updates was in response to customers’ needs and driven by an effective design thinking process.

Another household name, Airbnb , started by only making around $200 a week. After some observation, its founders recognized that the advertising pictures hosts were posting online weren’t of a high enough quality, which often deterred customers from renting rooms.

To empathize with customers, the founders spent time traveling to each location, imagining what users look for in a temporary place to stay. Their solution? Invest in a high-quality camera and take pictures of what customers want to see, based on their travel observations. For example, showing every room rather than a select few, listing special features like a hot tub or pool in the description, and highlighting the neighborhood or areas in close proximity to the residence. The result? A week later, Airbnb’s revenue doubled.

Instead of focusing on reaching a bigger audience, Airbnb’s founders used design thinking to determine why their existing audience wasn’t utilizing their services. They realized that rather than focusing on traditional business values, like scalability, they needed to simply put themselves in users’ shoes to solve business problems.

5. UberEats

The go-to food delivery service app UberEats attributes its success to its ability to reiterate quickly and empathize with customers.

A prime example of this is UberEats’s Walkabout Program , where designers observe cities in which the company operates. Some elements they inspect are food culture, cuisine, infrastructure, delivery processes, and transportation. One of the innovations that came from their immersive research is the driver app, which focuses on delivery partners’ pain points around parking in highly populated urban areas. To address this, the driver app provides step-by-step directions from restaurant to customer to ensure smoother delivery processes.

Understanding that pain points vary between geographic locations helps UberEats implement effective upgrades to its service that solve problems in specific locations.

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Practice Design Thinking

While these examples illustrate the kind of success design thinking can yield, you need to learn how to practice and use it before implementing it into your business model. Here are several ways to do so:

In the examples above, it’s easy to say the solutions are obvious. Yet, try taking a step back to reflect on how each company thought about its customer base’s perspective and recognized where to employ empathy.

This is a useful exercise you can do with the examples above. Consider the problem each company faced and think through alternative solutions each could have tried. This can enable you to practice both empathy and ideation.

Another helpful exercise is to look at each company’s competitors. Did those competitors have similar problems? Did they find similar solutions? How would you compete? Remember to walk through the four design thinking phases.

Design thinking is a powerful tool you can use to solve difficult business problems. To use it successfully, however, you need to apply it to problems both big and small.

If you want to learn more about design thinking, explore our online course Design Thinking and Innovation for more real-world case studies and opportunities to practice innovative problem-solving in your career.

case studies of design thinking

About the Author

Design Thinking Case Study Index

Design Thinking Case Study Index

Welcome to the Design Thinking Case Study Index. There are many Design Thinking Case Studies on the internet. Many are retrofitted descriptions of what occurred, rather than evidence of the Design Thinking process in action. In order to bring a higher standard to the practice of Design Thinking, we require stronger evidence and rigor. Only members can post and must provide strong evidence in the Design Thinking Case Study that the Design Thinking process was used to create the original idea for the product or service solution. The criteria that needs to be proved to make your project a Design Thinking Case Study are:

The Design Thinking Case Study Index is arranged according to market or industry verticals to help you find relevant Case Studies for your industry.






Following One School District's Approach to Innovation for the 21st Century  - Loraine Rossi de Campos




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case studies of design thinking

Design Thinking Case Studies

Find examples of how design thinking is used to solve problems, prototype, and innovate..

As more organizations and companies across the world adopt design thinking into their operations, it becomes even more obvious just how essential innovation is for continued success and growth. These other companies have discovered what works for them to generate some amazing results. By reviewing their successes (and failures), you can learn how to incorporate innovation and design thinking methodology into your own processes, practices, and people. Here are a few powerful design thinking case studies to review for yourself:

Golden Gate Regional Center

This case study by HBR focuses on the Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC), an organization that provides services and financial support to people with developmental disabilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013, GGRC began working with the Stanford d.school to learn the basics of design thinking. They then took this methodology to better understand issues with the assessment and application procedures, leading to several prototypes to be launched and tested to improve processes and procedures for everyone.

The go-to food delivery service app attributes its success to being able to emphasize with customers and reiterate quickly. UberEat’s Walkabout Program is a great case study of design thinking and involves designers observing the cities in which the company operates. They inspect food culture, infrastructure, transportation, and delivery processes. This immersive research helped them build features to improve delivery processes and ensure a smoother ordering and delivery experience.

Netflix’s Innovative Updates

Netflix is a great example of a company that has repeatedly used design thinking methodology to adapt to a changing landscape. At its inception, its main competitor (Blockbuster) required customers to drive to brick-and-mortar stores to rent DVDs. Netflix eliminated that inconvenience by delivering DVDs directly to their homes with a subscription model.

As society moved away from DVDs, Netflix pivoted and created the on-demand streaming service they are mainly known as today. In 2011, the streaming service also realized that customers were looking for original, provocative content that wasn’t airing on traditional networks, and launched their own TV and film production for content only available on the Netflix service.

This story is more wildly known now, but Airbnb relied heavily on design thinking methodology and experimentation to transform themselves into the successful business they are today. Instead of focusing on scaling up the business, they realized through research and exploration that the correct focus at that early stage should be on understanding pain points and delivering a solution to give customers what they need. This led to an immediate doubling of initial revenue, and that philosophy continued to prove successful for them in the journey to come.

Afraid of being forgotten in this digital era, Burberry leadership decided to change tactics. They knew that the path forward was appealing to the younger generations’ sentiments and behavior, so the company invested heavily in social media. It invited users to collaborate on its design processes. In the end, the company was able to increase its appeal and connection with the right audience, leading to record revenue growth.

Design Thinking & Human-Centered Design in Healthcare & Pharma

Through the use of design thinking, hospitals and other medical organizations have been able to better serve their patients and address specific problems or needs. In two previous posts on our blog, we shared some examples of this methodology being used in the healthcare, medical devices and pharma fields, including GE Healthcare and Mayo Clinic. Find those case studies here and here .

The Good Kitchen

In 2007, Denmark had over 125,000 elderly citizens relying on government-sponsored meals. Danish design agency Hatch and Bloom were asked to design a new and improved meal delivery service for these cities. Enter The Good Kitchen , a service with greater quality, more freedom of meal choice, and more flexibility for both the elderly citizens and the employees involved in meal preparation and delivery. One of the most notable actions they took to help this dream become a reality was interviewing and prototyping with both customers and chefs. They uncovered feedback in this process that led to the successful system used today.

These design thinking case studies are a great jumping-off point for learning more about successful implementation of design thinking. For more resources and advice, be sure to  check out our blog . If you are interested in learning more or getting help developing a custom  innovation workshop  or  design thinking training session , Innovation Training can help.  Contact us online  today to learn how to get started.

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The Accidental Design Thinker

Bringing Design Thinking to All

40 Design Thinking Success Stories

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I’m incredibly optimistic of the power of DT but also always on the lookout for design thinking success stories and examples. As I’ve shared my knowledge of design thinking with others, I’ve frequently been asked how often it delivers demonstrable results and how broadly it can be applied. Below is my collection of design thinking success stories that have helped reinforce my conviction that design thinking can deliver incredibly powerful results and be applicable to everyone.

Consumer Packaged Goods

Financial Services




If you’re at the beach and would rather read an actual book full of design thinking case studies, I’d recommend ‘Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works’ by Jeanne Lietdka.

In summary, there are plenty of available and powerful design thinking success stories, that will hopefully increase your conviction in the strength of DT. I’m always on the lookout for new examples and will continue to add to this list. Please don’t hesitate to share any great examples that I’m missing and continue to check back in as this list grows in size!

Interested in expanding your design thinking mindset and skills?  Click here for my collection of design thinking tools and resources!

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accidentalDT- thank you for sharing so much amazing resources on your site.

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[…] Be an Advocate for Design Thinking – Know, believe, share, and celebrate the success stories of design thinking. Here are 40 design thinking stories that will help make anyone a believer […]

[…] Check out my collection in the Self-Improvement section of 40 Design Thinking Success Stories! […]

[…] It was wonderful hearing case studies to supplement the research I’ve conducted on design thinking success stories. […]

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Thank you for your valuable contribution to Design Thinkers!

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My pleasure Denise! Thank you for your kind words and for visiting my site; it means a ton to me!

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Why Design Thinking Works

case studies of design thinking

While we know a lot about practices that stimulate new ideas, innovation teams often struggle to apply them. Why? Because people’s biases and entrenched behaviors get in the way. In this article a Darden professor explains how design thinking helps people overcome this problem and unleash their creativity.

Though ostensibly geared to understanding and molding the experiences of customers, design thinking also profoundly reshapes the experiences of the innovators themselves . For example, immersive customer research helps them set aside their own views and recognize needs customers haven’t expressed. Carefully planned dialogues help teams build on their diverse ideas, not just negotiate compromises when differences arise. And experiments with new solutions reduce all stakeholders’ fear of change.

At every phase—customer discovery, idea generation, and testing—a clear structure makes people more comfortable trying new things, and processes increase collaboration. Because it combines practical tools and human insight, design thinking is a social technology —one that the author predicts will have an impact as large as an earlier social technology, total quality management.

It addresses the biases and behaviors that hamper innovation.

Idea in Brief

The problem.

While we know a lot about what practices stimulate new ideas and creative solutions, most innovation teams struggle to realize their benefits.

People’s intrinsic biases and behavioral habits inhibit the exercise of the imagination and protect unspoken assumptions about what will or will not work.

The Solution

Design thinking provides a structured process that helps innovators break free of counterproductive tendencies that thwart innovation. Like TQM, it is a social technology that blends practical tools with insights into human nature.

Occasionally, a new way of organizing work leads to extraordinary improvements. Total quality management did that in manufacturing in the 1980s by combining a set of tools—kanban cards, quality circles, and so on—with the insight that people on the shop floor could do much higher level work than they usually were asked to. That blend of tools and insight, applied to a work process, can be thought of as a social technology.

In a recent seven-year study in which I looked in depth at 50 projects from a range of sectors, including business, health care, and social services, I have seen that another social technology, design thinking, has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes. By now most executives have at least heard about design thinking’s tools—ethnographic research, an emphasis on reframing problems and experimentation, the use of diverse teams, and so on—if not tried them. But what people may not understand is the subtler way that design thinking gets around the human biases (for example, rootedness in the status quo) or attachments to specific behavioral norms (“That’s how we do things here”) that time and again block the exercise of imagination.

In this article I’ll explore a variety of human tendencies that get in the way of innovation and describe how design thinking’s tools and clear process steps help teams break free of them. Let’s begin by looking at what organizations need from innovation—and at why their efforts to obtain it often fall short.

The Challenges of Innovation

To be successful, an innovation process must deliver three things: superior solutions, lower risks and costs of change, and employee buy-in. Over the years businesspeople have developed useful tactics for achieving those outcomes. But when trying to apply them, organizations frequently encounter new obstacles and trade-offs.

Superior solutions.

Defining problems in obvious, conventional ways, not surprisingly, often leads to obvious, conventional solutions. Asking a more interesting question can help teams discover more-original ideas. The risk is that some teams may get indefinitely hung up exploring a problem, while action-oriented managers may be too impatient to take the time to figure out what question they should be asking.

It’s also widely accepted that solutions are much better when they incorporate user-driven criteria. Market research can help companies understand those criteria, but the hurdle here is that it’s hard for customers to know they want something that doesn’t yet exist.

Finally, bringing diverse voices into the process is also known to improve solutions. This can be difficult to manage, however, if conversations among people with opposing views deteriorate into divisive debates.

Lower risks and costs.

Uncertainty is unavoidable in innovation. That’s why innovators often build a portfolio of options. The trade-off is that too many ideas dilute focus and resources. To manage this tension, innovators must be willing to let go of bad ideas—to “call the baby ugly,” as a manager in one of my studies described it. Unfortunately, people often find it easier to kill the creative (and arguably riskier) ideas than to kill the incremental ones.

Employee buy-in.

An innovation won’t succeed unless a company’s employees get behind it. The surest route to winning their support is to involve them in the process of generating ideas. The danger is that the involvement of many people with different perspectives will create chaos and incoherence.

Underlying the trade-offs associated with achieving these outcomes is a more fundamental tension. In a stable environment, efficiency is achieved by driving variation out of the organization. But in an unstable world, variation becomes the organization’s friend, because it opens new paths to success. However, who can blame leaders who must meet quarterly targets for doubling down on efficiency, rationality, and centralized control?

To manage all the trade-offs, organizations need a social technology that addresses these behavioral obstacles as well as the counterproductive biases of human beings. And as I’ll explain next, design thinking fits that bill.

The Beauty of Structure

Experienced designers often complain that design thinking is too structured and linear. And for them, that’s certainly true. But managers on innovation teams generally are not designers and also aren’t used to doing face-to-face research with customers, getting deeply immersed in their perspectives, co-creating with stakeholders, and designing and executing experiments. Structure and linearity help managers try and adjust to these new behaviors.

As Kaaren Hanson, formerly the head of design innovation at Intuit and now Facebook’s design product director, has explained: “Anytime you’re trying to change people’s behavior, you need to start them off with a lot of structure, so they don’t have to think. A lot of what we do is habit, and it’s hard to change those habits, but having very clear guardrails can help us.”

Organized processes keep people on track and curb the tendency to spend too long exploring a problem or to impatiently skip ahead. They also instill confidence. Most humans are driven by a fear of mistakes, so they focus more on preventing errors than on seizing opportunities. They opt for inaction rather than action when a choice risks failure. But there is no innovation without action—so psychological safety is essential. The physical props and highly formatted tools of design thinking deliver that sense of security, helping would-be innovators move more assuredly through the discovery of customer needs, idea generation, and idea testing.

In most organizations the application of design thinking involves seven activities. Each generates a clear output that the next activity converts to another output until the organization arrives at an implementable innovation. But at a deeper level, something else is happening—something that executives generally are not aware of. Though ostensibly geared to understanding and molding the experiences of customers, each design-thinking activity also reshapes the experiences of the innovators themselves in profound ways.

Customer Discovery

Many of the best-known methods of the design-thinking discovery process relate to identifying the “job to be done.” Adapted from the fields of ethnography and sociology, these methods concentrate on examining what makes for a meaningful customer journey rather than on the collection and analysis of data. This exploration entails three sets of activities:

Traditionally, customer research has been an impersonal exercise. An expert, who may well have preexisting theories about customer preferences, reviews feedback from focus groups, surveys, and, if available, data on current behavior, and draws inferences about needs. The better the data, the better the inferences. The trouble is, this grounds people in the already articulated needs that the data reflects. They see the data through the lens of their own biases. And they don’t recognize needs people have not expressed.

Shaping the Innovator’s Journey

What makes design thinking a social technology is its ability to counteract the biases of innovators and change the way they engage in the innovation process.

Design thinking takes a different approach: Identify hidden needs by having the innovator live the customer’s experience. Consider what happened at the Kingwood Trust, a UK charity helping adults with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. One design team member, Katie Gaudion, got to know Pete, a nonverbal adult with autism. The first time she observed him at his home, she saw him engaged in seemingly damaging acts—like picking at a leather sofa and rubbing indents in a wall. She started by documenting Pete’s behavior and defined the problem as how to prevent such destructiveness.

But on her second visit to Pete’s home, she asked herself: What if Pete’s actions were motivated by something other than a destructive impulse? Putting her personal perspective aside, she mirrored his behavior and discovered how satisfying his activities actually felt. “Instead of a ruined sofa, I now perceived Pete’s sofa as an object wrapped in fabric that is fun to pick,” she explained. “Pressing my ear against the wall and feeling the vibrations of the music above, I felt a slight tickle in my ear whilst rubbing the smooth and beautiful indentation…So instead of a damaged wall, I perceived it as a pleasant and relaxing audio-tactile experience.”

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Katie’s immersion in Pete’s world not only produced a deeper understanding of his challenges but called into question an unexamined bias about the residents, who had been perceived as disability sufferers that needed to be kept safe. Her experience caused her to ask herself another new question: Instead of designing just for residents’ disabilities and safety, how could the innovation team design for their strengths and pleasures? That led to the creation of living spaces, gardens, and new activities aimed at enabling people with autism to live fuller and more pleasurable lives.

Sense making.

Immersion in user experiences provides raw material for deeper insights. But finding patterns and making sense of the mass of qualitative data collected is a daunting challenge. Time and again, I have seen initial enthusiasm about the results of ethnographic tools fade as nondesigners become overwhelmed by the volume of information and the messiness of searching for deeper insights. It is here that the structure of design thinking really comes into its own.

One of the most effective ways to make sense of the knowledge generated by immersion is a design-thinking exercise called the Gallery Walk. In it the core innovation team selects the most important data gathered during the discovery process and writes it down on large posters. Often these posters showcase individuals who have been interviewed, complete with their photos and quotations capturing their perspectives. The posters are hung around a room, and key stakeholders are invited to tour this gallery and write down on Post-it notes the bits of data they consider essential to new designs. The stakeholders then form small teams, and in a carefully orchestrated process, their Post-it observations are shared, combined, and sorted by theme into clusters that the group mines for insights. This process overcomes the danger that innovators will be unduly influenced by their own biases and see only what they want to see, because it makes the people who were interviewed feel vivid and real to those browsing the gallery. It creates a common database and facilitates collaborators’ ability to interact, reach shared insights together, and challenge one another’s individual takeaways—another critical guard against biased interpretations.

The final stage in the discovery process is a series of workshops and seminar discussions that ask in some form the question, If anything were possible, what job would the design do well? The focus on possibilities, rather than on the constraints imposed by the status quo, helps diverse teams have more-collaborative and creative discussions about the design criteria, or the set of key features that an ideal innovation should have. Establishing a spirit of inquiry deepens dissatisfaction with the status quo and makes it easier for teams to reach consensus throughout the innovation process. And down the road, when the portfolio of ideas is winnowed, agreement on the design criteria will give novel ideas a fighting chance against safer incremental ones.

Consider what happened at Monash Health, an integrated hospital and health care system in Melbourne, Australia. Mental health clinicians there had long been concerned about the frequency of patient relapses—usually in the form of drug overdoses and suicide attempts—but consensus on how to address this problem eluded them. In an effort to get to the bottom of it, clinicians traced the experiences of specific patients through the treatment process. One patient, Tom, emerged as emblematic in their study. His experience included three face-to-face visits with different clinicians, 70 touchpoints, 13 different case managers, and 18 handoffs during the interval between his initial visit and his relapse.

The team members held a series of workshops in which they asked clinicians this question: Did Tom’s current care exemplify why they had entered health care? As people discussed their motivations for becoming doctors and nurses, they came to realize that improving Tom’s outcome might depend as much on their sense of duty to Tom himself as it did on their clinical activity. Everyone bought into this conclusion, which made designing a new treatment process—centered on the patient’s needs rather than perceived best practices—proceed smoothly and successfully. After its implementation, patient-relapse rates fell by 60%.

Idea Generation

Once they understand customers’ needs, innovators move on to identify and winnow down specific solutions that conform to the criteria they’ve identified.

The first step here is to set up a dialogue about potential solutions, carefully planning who will participate, what challenge they will be given, and how the conversation will be structured. After using the design criteria to do some individual brainstorming, participants gather to share ideas and build on them creatively—as opposed to simply negotiating compromises when differences arise.

When Children’s Health System of Texas, the sixth-largest pediatric medical center in the United States, identified the need for a new strategy, the organization, led by the vice president of population health, Peter Roberts, applied design thinking to reimagine its business model. During the discovery process, clinicians set aside their bias that what mattered most was medical intervention. They came to understand that intervention alone wouldn’t work if the local population in Dallas didn’t have the time or ability to seek out medical knowledge and didn’t have strong support networks—something few families in the area enjoyed. The clinicians also realized that the medical center couldn’t successfully address problems on its own; the community would need to be central to any solution. So Children’s Health invited its community partners to codesign a new wellness ecosystem whose boundaries (and resources) would stretch far beyond the medical center. Deciding to start small and tackle a single condition, the team gathered to create a new model for managing asthma.

The session brought together hospital administrators, physicians, nurses, social workers, parents of patients, and staff from Dallas’s school districts, housing authority, YMCA, and faith-based organizations. First, the core innovation team shared learning from the discovery process. Next, each attendee thought independently about the capabilities that his or her institution might contribute toward addressing the children’s problems, jotting down ideas on sticky notes. Then each attendee was invited to join a small group at one of five tables, where the participants shared individual ideas, grouped them into common themes, and envisioned what an ideal experience would look like for the young patients and their families.

Champions of change usually emerge from these kinds of conversations, which greatly improves the chances of successful implementation. (All too often, good ideas die on the vine in the absence of people with a personal commitment to making them happen.) At Children’s Health, the partners invited into the project galvanized the community to act and forged and maintained the relationships in their institutions required to realize the new vision. Housing authority representatives drove changes in housing codes, charging inspectors with incorporating children’s health issues (like the presence of mold) into their assessments. Local pediatricians adopted a set of standard asthma protocols, and parents of children with asthma took on a significant role as peer counselors providing intensive education to other families through home visits.


Typically, emergence activities generate a number of competing ideas, more or less attractive and more or less feasible. In the next step, articulation, innovators surface and question their implicit assumptions. Managers are often bad at this, because of many behavioral biases, such as overoptimism, confirmation bias, and fixation on first solutions. When assumptions aren’t challenged, discussions around what will or won’t work become deadlocked, with each person advocating from his or her own understanding of how the world works.

In contrast, design thinking frames the discussion as an inquiry into what would have to be true about the world for an idea to be feasible. (See “ Management Is Much More Than a Science ,” by Roger L. Martin and Tony Golsby-Smith, HBR, September–October 2017.) An example of this comes from the Ignite Accelerator program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the Whiteriver Indian reservation hospital in Arizona, a team led by Marliza Rivera, a young quality control officer, sought to reduce wait times in the hospital’s emergency room, which were sometimes as long as six hours.

The team’s initial concept, borrowed from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was to install an electronic kiosk for check-in. As team members began to apply design thinking, however, they were asked to surface their assumptions about why the idea would work. It was only then that they realized that their patients, many of whom were elderly Apache speakers, were unlikely to be comfortable with computer technology. Approaches that worked in urban Baltimore would not work in Whiteriver, so this idea could be safely set aside.

At the end of the idea generation process, innovators will have a portfolio of well-thought-through, though possibly quite different, ideas. The assumptions underlying them will have been carefully vetted, and the conditions necessary for their success will be achievable. The ideas will also have the support of committed teams, who will be prepared to take on the responsibility of bringing them to market.

The Testing Experience

Companies often regard prototyping as a process of fine-tuning a product or service that has already largely been developed. But in design thinking, prototyping is carried out on far-from-finished products. It’s about users’ iterative experiences with a work in progress. This means that quite radical changes—including complete redesigns—can occur along the way.


Neuroscience research indicates that helping people “pre-experience” something novel—or to put it another way, imagine it incredibly vividly—results in more-accurate assessments of the novelty’s value. That’s why design thinking calls for the creation of basic, low-cost artifacts that will capture the essential features of the proposed user experience. These are not literal prototypes—and they are often much rougher than the “minimum viable products” that lean start-ups test with customers. But what these artifacts lose in fidelity, they gain in flexibility, because they can easily be altered in response to what’s learned by exposing users to them. And their incompleteness invites interaction.

Such artifacts can take many forms. The layout of a new medical office building at Kaiser Permanente, for example, was tested by hanging bedsheets from the ceiling to mark future walls. Nurses and physicians were invited to interact with staffers who were playing the role of patients and to suggest how spaces could be adjusted to better facilitate treatment. At Monash Health, a program called Monash Watch—aimed at using telemedicine to keep vulnerable populations healthy at home and reduce their hospitalization rates—used detailed storyboards to help hospital administrators and government policy makers envision this new approach in practice, without building a digital prototype.

Learning in action.

Real-world experiments are an essential way to assess new ideas and identify the changes needed to make them workable. But such tests offer another, less obvious kind of value: They help reduce employees’ and customers’ quite normal fear of change.

Consider an idea proposed by Don Campbell, a professor of medicine, and Keith Stockman, a manager of operations research at Monash Health. As part of Monash Watch, they suggested hiring laypeople to be “telecare” guides who would act as “professional neighbors,” keeping in frequent telephone contact with patients at high risk of multiple hospital admissions. Campbell and Stockman hypothesized that lower-wage laypeople who were carefully selected, trained in health literacy and empathy skills, and backed by a decision support system and professional coaches they could involve as needed could help keep the at-risk patients healthy at home.

Their proposal was met with skepticism. Many of their colleagues held a strong bias against letting anyone besides a health professional perform such a service for patients with complex issues, but using health professionals in the role would have been unaffordable. Rather than debating this point, however, the innovation team members acknowledged the concerns and engaged their colleagues in the codesign of an experiment testing that assumption. Three hundred patients later, the results were in: Overwhelmingly positive patient feedback and a demonstrated reduction in bed use and emergency room visits, corroborated by independent consultants, quelled the fears of the skeptics.

As we have seen, the structure of design thinking creates a natural flow from research to rollout. Immersion in the customer experience produces data, which is transformed into insights, which help teams agree on design criteria they use to brainstorm solutions. Assumptions about what’s critical to the success of those solutions are examined and then tested with rough prototypes that help teams further develop innovations and prepare them for real-world experiments.

Along the way, design-thinking processes counteract human biases that thwart creativity while addressing the challenges typically faced in reaching superior solutions, lowered costs and risks, and employee buy-in. Recognizing organizations as collections of human beings who are motivated by varying perspectives and emotions, design thinking emphasizes engagement, dialogue, and learning. By involving customers and other stakeholders in the definition of the problem and the development of solutions, design thinking garners a broad commitment to change. And by supplying a structure to the innovation process, design thinking helps innovators collaborate and agree on what is essential to the outcome at every phase. It does this not only by overcoming workplace politics but by shaping the experiences of the innovators, and of their key stakeholders and implementers, at every step. That is social technology at work.

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IBM: Design Thinking

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case studies of design thinking

Srikant M. Datar

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This free 6 week course is for anyone who wants to make a difference. Whether you are already familiar with the field of social innovation or social entrepreneurship, working for an organization that wants to increase its social impact, or just starting out, this course will take you on a journey of exploring the complex problems that surround us and how to start thinking about solutions. We will debunk common assumptions around what resources are needed to begin acting as a social innovator. We will learn from the numerous examples of social innovations happening all over the world. You will be challenged to get out of your comfort zone and start engaging with the diverse spaces around you. By the end of the course, you will have formed your own approach to social innovation, and you will have begun to develop the concepts, mindset, skills, and relationships that will enable you to start and evolve as a changemaker. You will be able to purchase a Verified Certificate if you wish to show evidence of your achievements, but this is optional, and you may apply for Financial Aid if you are unable to pay the certificate fee. The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship co-created this course with RLabs, a social movement ‘born-and-bred’ in Bridgetown, Cape Town that is now active in 22 countries. The movement empowers youth through innovative and disruptive technology by teaching them vital skills and providing much needed support and a sense of community. Advocating and supporting initiatives such as RLabs forms part of the Bertha Centre’s mandate. The Centre is a specialised unit at University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, and is the first academic centre in Africa dedicated to advancing social innovation and entrepreneurship. You can view the course trailer at www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcWYG64WO20 Tweet about this course using the hashtag #socinnMOOC

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Sustainability, Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship

Jun 4, 2020

This was an inspiring course. I enjoyed applying Design Theory to an idea I had been pondering for years. I was able to refine my idea in order to share it with others and explore its feasibility.

Sep 10, 2021

This course on its own is definitely a changemaker and I'm honoured to have taken part in the lessons which are provided for to develop ourselves, and to never limit our capabilities. Thank you

From the lesson

Innovating by design

A number of methodologies and processes can help generate ideas and creative opportunities, and some of these have been used in business to generate new products and services, and are starting to be applied in social innovation. Human-centred design is incredibly important, and the Design Thinking process allows you to start early and wherever you are with whatever you’ve got. Design Thinking has evolved as a way to respond to deeper user insights, to connect more with people and with communities so that we can actually design solutions that are human-centred. Design Thinking is not just about products, but also helps create new processes, new systems, new services, and importantly even user experiences. Following a Design Thinking process will help you iterate and test your solution with end users, with an emphasis on failing early and often through trying things out and prototyping. Powerful Design Thinking methodology can help you to come up with human-centred design solutions that manifest economic viability, technical feasibility and social desirability in your social innovation.


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A Case Study - Applying a Design Thinking Process and User Experience Goals in Developing Solutions for a Smart Construction Site

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Design thinking, what is design thinking.

Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

Design Thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0

In his 2009 TED talk, Design Thinking pioneer Tim Brown discusses Design Thinking’s value in solving extremely complex challenges.

Why Is Design Thinking so Important?

In user experience (UX) design , it’s crucial to develop and refine skills to understand and address rapid changes in users’ environments and behaviors. The world has become increasingly interconnected and complex since cognitive scientist and Nobel Prize laureate Herbert A. Simon first mentioned design thinking in his 1969 book, The Sciences of the Artificial , and then contributed many ideas to its principles. Professionals from a variety of fields, including architecture and engineering, subsequently advanced this highly creative process to address human needs in the modern age. Twenty-first-century organizations from a wide range of industries find design thinking a valuable means to problem-solve for the users of their products and services. Design teams use design thinking to tackle ill-defined/unknown problems (aka wicked problems ) because they can reframe these in human-centric ways and focus on what’s most important for users . Of all design processes , design thinking is almost certainly the best for “thinking outside the box”. With it, teams can do better UX research , prototyping and usability testing to uncover new ways to meet users’ needs.

Design thinking’s value as a world-improving, driving force in business (global heavyweights such as Google, Apple and Airbnb have wielded it to notable effect) matches its status as a popular subject at leading international universities. With design thinking, teams have the freedom to generate ground-breaking solutions . Using it, your team can get behind hard-to-access insights and apply a collection of hands-on methods to help find innovative answers.

The Five Stages of Design Thinking

Hasso-Platner Institute Panorama

Ludwig Wilhelm Wall, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (aka the d.school) describes design thinking as a five-stage process. Note: These stages are not always sequential, and teams often run them in parallel, out of order and repeat them in an iterative fashion.

case studies of design thinking

Design thinking is an iterative and non-linear process that contains five phases: 1. Empathize, 2. Define, 3. Ideate, 4. Prototype and 5. Test.

Stage 1: Empathize — Research Your Users' Needs

Here, you should gain an empathetic understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, typically through user research. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process such as design thinking because it allows you to set aside your own assumptions about the world and gain real insight into users and their needs.

Stage 2: Define— State Your Users' Needs and Problems

It’s time to accumulate the information gathered during the Empathize stage. You then analyze your observations and synthesize them to define the core problems you and your team have identified. These definitions are called problem statements . You can create personas to help keep your efforts human-centered before proceeding to ideation .

Stage 3: Ideate— Challenge Assumptions and Create Ideas

Now, you’re ready to generate ideas. The solid background of knowledge from the first two phases means you can start to “think outside the box”, look for alternative ways to view the problem and identify innovative solutions to the problem statement you’ve created. Brainstorming is particularly useful here..

Stage 4: Prototype— Start to Create Solutions

This is an experimental phase. The aim is to identify the best possible solution for each problem found. Your team should produce some inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product (or specific features found within the product) to investigate the ideas you’ve generated. This could involve simply paper prototyping .

Stage 5: Test— Try Your Solutions Out

Evaluators rigorously test the prototypes. Although this is the final phase, design thinking is iterative: Teams often use the results to redefine one or more further problems . So, you can return to previous stages to make further iterations, alterations and refinements – to find or rule out alternative solutions.

Overall, you should understand that these stages are different modes which contribute to the entire design project, rather than sequential steps . Your goal throughout is to gain the deepest understanding of the users and what their ideal solution/product would be.

Learn More about Design Thinking

Design consultancy IDEO’s design kit is a great repository of Design Thinking tools and case studies: http://www.designkit.org/

To keep up with recent developments in Design Thinking, read Design Thinking pioneer Tim Brown’s blog: https://designthinking.ideo.com/

To learn how to engage in Design Thinking, check out our course “Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide” – an excellent guide to get you started on your own Design Thinking projects: https://www.interaction-design.org/courses/design-thinking-the-ultimate-guide

Literature on Design Thinking

Here’s the entire UX literature on Design Thinking by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Design Thinking

Take a deep dive into Design Thinking with our course Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide .

Some of the world’s leading brands, such as Apple, Google, Samsung, and General Electric, have rapidly adopted the design thinking approach, and design thinking is being taught at leading universities around the world, including Stanford d.school, Harvard, and MIT. What is design thinking, and why is it so popular and effective?

Design Thinking is not exclusive to designers —all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering and business have practiced it. So, why call it Design Thinking? Well, that’s because design work processes help us systematically extract, teach, learn and apply human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way—in our designs, businesses, countries and lives. And that’s what makes it so special.

The overall goal of this design thinking course is to help you design better products, services, processes, strategies, spaces, architecture, and experiences. Design thinking helps you and your team develop practical and innovative solutions for your problems. It is a human-focused , prototype-driven , innovative design process . Through this course, you will develop a solid understanding of the fundamental phases and methods in design thinking, and you will learn how to implement your newfound knowledge in your professional work life. We will give you lots of examples; we will go into case studies, videos, and other useful material, all of which will help you dive further into design thinking. In fact, this course also includes exclusive video content that we've produced in partnership with design leaders like Alan Dix, William Hudson and Frank Spillers!

This course contains a series of practical exercises that build on one another to create a complete design thinking project. The exercises are optional, but you’ll get invaluable hands-on experience with the methods you encounter in this course if you complete them, because they will teach you to take your first steps as a design thinking practitioner. What’s equally important is you can use your work as a case study for your portfolio to showcase your abilities to future employers! A portfolio is essential if you want to step into or move ahead in a career in the world of human-centered design.

Design thinking methods and strategies belong at every level of the design process . However, design thinking is not an exclusive property of designers—all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. What’s special about design thinking is that designers and designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn, and apply these human-centered techniques in solving problems in a creative and innovative way—in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, and in our lives.

That means that design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees , freelancers , and business leaders . It’s for anyone who seeks to infuse an approach to innovation that is powerful, effective and broadly accessible, one that can be integrated into every level of an organization, product, or service so as to drive new alternatives for businesses and society.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course. You can highlight them on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or your website .

All Literature

The 5 stages in the design thinking process.

case studies of design thinking

What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular?

case studies of design thinking

Personas – A Simple Introduction

case studies of design thinking

Stage 2 in the Design Thinking Process: Define the Problem and Interpret the Results

case studies of design thinking

What is Ideation – and How to Prepare for Ideation Sessions

case studies of design thinking

Stage 3 in the Design Thinking Process: Ideate

case studies of design thinking

Stage 4 in the Design Thinking Process: Prototype

case studies of design thinking

Stage 1 in the Design Thinking Process: Empathise with Your Users

case studies of design thinking

Empathy Map – Why and How to Use It

case studies of design thinking

10 Insightful Design Thinking Frameworks: A Quick Overview

case studies of design thinking

Affinity Diagrams: How to Cluster Your Ideas and Reveal Insights

case studies of design thinking

What Is Empathy and Why Is It So Important in Design Thinking?

case studies of design thinking

Define and Frame Your Design Challenge by Creating Your Point Of View and Ask “How Might We”

case studies of design thinking

Design Thinking: Get Started with Prototyping

case studies of design thinking

Design Thinking: New Innovative Thinking for New Problems

case studies of design thinking

5 Common Low-Fidelity Prototypes and Their Best Practices

case studies of design thinking

Test Your Prototypes: How to Gather Feedback and Maximize Learning

case studies of design thinking

Stage 5 in the Design Thinking Process: Test

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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding UX Roles and Which One You Should Go For

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The History of Design Thinking

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Journalism case studies that apply design thinking

Design thinking has become a popular method among journalists who are interested in boosting creativity and better engaging their audiences. Stanford University’s d.school offers a five-step process to kick start design thinking that you can use in your newsrooms. Those steps are empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test, which I laid out in another Poynter.org piece .

Here are two case studies to illustrate how journalists are using design thinking in their stories and projects.

case studies of design thinking

Five step process of design thinking by Stanford University’s d.school (Image: d.school / Stanford University)

Voice of San Diego digs into residents’ concerns

Andrew Donohue , senior editor at the Center for Investigative Reporting, used design thinking to create radically different coverage of the 2012 San Diego city council elections while editor of the Voice of San Diego. Instead of publishing more stories on the candidates’ agendas, Donohue and his team assigned a reporter to each district for a week with one mission: find out what’s most important to residents from that community.

The resulting stories were unexpected. “It turns out, our coverage for years had been focused on things that didn’t seem to matter all that much to even active San Diego residents,” Donohue wrote in a Nieman Journalism Lab article .

Voice of San Diego reporters used empathy to understand what San Diego residents needed. Some did ride-alongs , discovering that San Pasqual didn’t have “ city sewer, water or trash pickup. ” In some communities, they realized, even discussing the safety of crossing the street was a big deal.

“Instead of starting with a story idea, you start with a question and work with a community, be it virtual or real, through live events or interviews,” Donohue told Poynter by phone.

case studies of design thinking

Once reporters felt they had a good understanding of San Diego residents’ concerns, they focused on what the community wanted: “Our stories were based a lot more in real people’s needs rather than the story being dreamt up in our head about what we think is important or what document we happen to have or what sources happen to tell us.”

After Voice of San Diego published its coverage, the nonprofit news site received positive feedback from residents and from the journalism community, Donohue said.

He emphasized the importance of prototyping to achieve the result he saw: going out and doing.

“We still often think we need everything to be absolutely perfect before we try something or unveil it to the public. Clearly, the reporting needs to be there,” Donohue said. But there are “different ways of storytelling,” and “little experiments” can quickly “pop things up,” he said. It’s important to provide ways for people “to give feedback that’s not just their reaction to a story.”

Donohue spent the past year as a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University, where he immersed himself at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, often called the d.school , to create a framework for journalists to apply design thinking to investigative reporting.

His work at the Voice of San Diego served as a prototype and test that led to a new model called Scratch , a new model for investigative reporting, that tries to “creatively engage citizens in government through live events, storytelling and the latest technological tools.”

Donohue said he wants to continue to evolve Scratch. He’s also thinking of conducting a design thinking workshop during the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference next June in San Francisco.

OrbitaLAB designs popup workshops for entrepreneurial journalists

Adriana Garcia , business editor at Thomson Reuters for the Sao Paulo bureau, was a John S. Knight fellow in the same cohort as Donohue. Also involved in the d.school, Garcia took design thinking in a different direction. Instead of using it to craft story ideas, she used it to develop her project OrbitaLAB , an organization that aims to diversify news media in Brazil.

case studies of design thinking

Currently, Garcia is considering teaching classes to “bring [together] people who want to do entrepreneurial things in media with people who are interested in” other fields such as business, design and programming, she told Poynter via Skype.

Her idea began when she discovered a defect in journalism education. She said journalists learn to be cynical and competitive.

“Those things are needed to be a reporter — you need to have that mentality,” she said. “But it doesn’t fit with the reality of creating stuff where you’ll need collaboration and a different attitude.”

Design thinking, she said, provides journalists with a framework that fosters cooperation and therefore innovation.

Garcia spent time empathizing , defining and ideating before she rolled out OrbitaLAB in Sao Paulo last January for Campus Party , a weeklong technology conference run like a hackathon . The annual event typically draws a young, predominantly male and tech-savvy crowd. She hosted a panel, “Journalism Reloaded,” at the conference and ran a design thinking “flash mob workshop,” asking participants to redesign news consumption on buses in Sao Paulo.

The workshop was Garcia’s way to test whether her plans to teach classes through OrbitaLAB would work. More than 1,100 participants from many backgrounds — including sales, design, coding, robotics and journalism — attended.

“It was amazing,” Garcia said. “They did the empathy work. The journalists were crucial in that part. Then they did the brainstorming and prototyping.”

Garcia said the trial run gave her confidence that molding OrbitaLAB into what she called an “idea incubator” could succeed. After her fellowship at Stanford, she went home to Sao Paulo to create design thinking workshops for OrbitaLAB fans, who stayed in touch after Campus Party via the organization’s Facebook Group . She said her goal now is to do empathy work to understand the kinds of “design journalism” classes she should teach to help aspiring journalists execute their projects.

“Journalism is facing so many distribution changes, business-model constraints and challenges,” Garcia said. “Design thinking is an experimental process that can help you come out with products and services that might bring to life things in media that don’t exist today.”

Garcia has set up shop in The Hub Sao Paulo , where she hosts meetings and recently taught her first “design journalism” class. The 20 spots filled up within 24 hours, which seems to suggest a demand even though many journalists haven’t heard of design thinking, she wrote to Poynter in an email. She finds that the communal space with flexible layouts and moveable furniture replicates the d.school environment.

The newspaper is “a product that’s not serving people as it used to serve in the past,” she said. She’s bent on finding a new way to keep people informed daily in a “world where the industry is not willing to pay for it in the same way as they used to do.”

When asked if she’s afraid it’s not going to work out, Garcia said: “I think design thinking is the best methodology to try to do new things in journalism and maybe fund it for the future if we keep on taking this approach. Otherwise it’s just a river of tears.”

Disclosure: I’m a catalyst for the Design Thinking Action Lab online course at Venture Lab.

Correction: This article originally stated that the Voice of San Diego hosted open-mic nights, meetups and design thinking workshops as part of its experiment. While Donohue has thought about the importance of having such events, they didn’t actually occur.

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Design Thinking Case Study: Innovation at Apple

Apple is one of the leading companies that is renowned for its unique products and brand. A short talk with an Apple user reveals there is an emotional relation between consumers and Apple products , including every “i” product created in the past two decades.

Why are Apple products different from their competitors’ products? How does Apple manage to achieve innovation in its product families? Answering these questions provides interesting insight into Apple’s history and how it survived its most critical time between 1985 and 1997.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple after being fired, the company share was only worth US $5 and its future was uncertain. Today, in 2016, Apple’s share price is around US $108 and the company achieved revenues of US $233.7 billion in 2015 with net income of US $53.39 billion.  This mini case study sheds light on the role that design thinking and innovation played in helping Steve Jobs rescue Apple with his consumer-driven strategy and vision for the company.

The Hard Times at Apple

The early days of Apple (which was cofounded by Steve Jobs on 1976) are characterized by its first personal computer that was delivered with Apple OS. During this time, Apple was dominating the market because there were no other manufacturers of this type of computer as computers were used only by governments or large companies. However, in 1985, Steve Jobs was forced to leave the company. This marked the start of a chaotic era in the company’s strategy and product development.

In the period 1985-1997, Apple struggled to achieve market success, especially after Jobs’s departure and increasing competition from other giants such as IBM, which decided to enter the PC computers market. During this period, Apple faced number of challenges including:

Apple Newton PDA

Design Thinking to Fuel Innovation

Apple is one of the leading companies in the field of innovation and this couldn’t have happened without the company adopting design thinking . Design thinking is a solution-oriented process that is used to achieve innovation with considerations about the consumer at the heart of all development stages. Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO, defines design thinking as follows: “ Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. ”

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

In previous design thinking articles, we explored the different models of design thinking including the IDEO model, d.school model, and IBM design thinking  model. Most of these models share the target of achieving innovation through three main factors:

design thinking innovation

User Desirability . The product should satisfy the consumer’s needs by solving everyday problems through a user-centered process. This can be achieved through a deep understanding of the user and through an empathic design process, which can only be achieved by putting ourselves in the shoes of our consumers (using tools such as an empathic persona map ).

Market Viability . Successful products require an integrated marketing strategy that identifies the target segment and builds the product brand in accordance with this target segment. Tools such as the business model canvas can help our understanding of the project and create a business strategy for it. Also, tools such as the SWOT analysis allows us to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the specified product.

Technology Possibility . Technology provides state-of-art tools for designers to innovate and build products that meet today’s needs. Technology should be adopted through the development process, including the prototyping stage where a visual presentation of the product is made to the team.

Think Different!

After Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 (upon Apple’s acquisition NeXT), he started to apply the design thinking characteristics discussed above, which reflected his vision for Apple products. The vision discussed below was used to form Apple’s strategy from 1997 until today. Steve Jobs applied design thinking by focusing on:

The vision characterized above can be clearly identified in modern Apple products. Although other competitors focus on the features and product capabilities, Apple focuses on a holistic user experience.  For example, the iMac is renowned for being quiet, having a quick wake-up, better sound, and a high-quality display. This vision was formed in Apple’s development strategy that includes:

Apple iMac

Excellence in Execution

In this part, Steve tended to improve the execution process by closing 2 divisions, eliminating 70% of the new products and focusing on the higher potential products, reducing the product lines from 15 to just 3, and shutting facilities to move manufacturing outside the company. Apple also launched a website for direct sale of its products and started to take an interest in materials and how products are manufactured within a consumer-driven culture.

Platform Strategy

Apple streamlined their product portfolio to a family of products that can be produced  much more quickly while keeping the existing design elements. Also, the company targeted product that require less repair and maintenance.

Iterative Customer Involvement

The consumer experience should be integrated into the design and development stages through participating in usability testing. Also, the design for interfaces should focus on the user experience.

Beautiful Products

In addition to the function of the product, the form should beautiful, which can be achieved through continuous innovation and development. Apple also focused on the materials and manufacturing process and took a bold approach to trying new ideas rather than sticking with the ordinary design forms.

Apple’s history with innovation provides a clear lesson about how design and innovation can turn company failure to market success and a leading position in a competitive market. Design thinking helped Apple to innovate while placing their consumers at the heart of the process. The period that Steve Jobs was absent from Apple demonstrates that copying others and lacking a clear innovation strategy can lead companies directly from success to failure. On the other hand, innovation can definitely help build a successful business.

Dr Rafiq Elmansy

I'm a design academic, author and advisor. I taught for both undergraduate and postgraduate design programmes in three universities: Wrexham Glyndwr University, Northumbria University and The American University in Cairo. I contributed to building four design programmes. My experience includes design management, design thinking, interactive design, evidence-based design and design for healthcare. I'm the inventor of the Adherence Canvas, an evidence-based design tool to improve patient adherence to health tech. Additionally, I wrote several books on design and technology. I am the founder of Designorate.com. I am a fellow and mentor for the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), an accredited lecturer from the British Charter Institute of IT (BSC), and an Adobe Education Leader. My industry experience involves 20 years in interactive design and multimedia design.

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COVID-19: The Ultimate Design Thinking Use Case

We are living in extraordinary times as COVID-19 continues to cause crises across the world. Could designers make use of design thinking to solve urgent problems and come up with innovative solutions?

COVID-19: The Ultimate Design Thinking Use Case

By Miklos Philips

Miklos is a design leader, author, and speaker with more than 18 years of experience in the design field.

An emergency field hospital with tents customarily used for disaster relief has been opened in New York’s Central Park, and across the globe, “social distancing” has become part of our everyday behavior.

We are coming to grips with COVID-19, but it has caught us off guard. As most of the world’s population is under some form of lockdown, we find ourselves in the middle of an unprecedented social experiment with many people working remotely and entire families staying home.

A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. For years, we have been warned of the possibility by hundreds of health experts, and in 2015, Bill Gates talked about how unprepared we are in his TED talk . He grimly warned: “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war.” We are now faced with a challenge that has no parallel in peacetime this century.

Mona Coronalisa - design thinking in healthcare

While most people manage to “keep calm and carry on,” friction and frustration are inevitable living under such a crisis. But duress lays fertile ground for innovation, and during times such as these, eager designers and creatives can’t help but see opportunities for improvement.

If we approached COVID-19 as a design problem, could we find innovative ways to apply design thinking and human-centered design principles to help soothe everyday frustrations and mitigate the most pressing issues? Drawing parallels between the problems of the global pandemic and those of product and service design, the similarities are obvious.

At the intersection of the innovator’s mindset and creative thinking, we could explore ways to help the world deal with this and the next pandemic. Reaching into our designer’s toolkit, we could deploy the staples of our craft, including problem definition, ethnographic research, ideation, prototyping, and user testing. Taking advantage of recent innovations and the latest technology, we could run Design Sprints , focus on a specific problem, generate multiple solutions, build prototypes, and get rapid feedback.

The six phases of the design thinking process

The Design Thinking Process Applied to COVID-19

A global pandemic puts enormous stress on governments and healthcare services. Suddenly, there is a scramble to circulate the correct information and roll out products and services to deal with the crisis. These challenges bring together a blend of product design, experience design, and service design problems that are desperate for a solution, and design thinking can help.

Design thinking is a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It combines what’s desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It’s useful in tackling loosely defined, complex problems by understanding human needs.

Design thinking is unique compared with other forms of problem-solving methods in that it’s a non-linear process focused on delivering outcomes, rather than being focused on a precise problem definition. The design thinking process consists of five stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test . Each step needs to be given appropriate resources and the proper duration to create an end product that reliably meets user needs.

Keep calm and carry on - applying design thinking to the coronavirus pandemic

Information Clarity, Consistency, and Distribution

The flow of information is essential to curbing a pandemic. While the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading, it took authorities several weeks to consolidate their messaging and make it consistent. With advanced technology, the distribution of information isn’t the problem. It’s transmitting the right information to the right people at the right time.

In times of crisis, there is an acute need for standardized, consistent, and effective information design. Principle four from the Nielsen Norman Group’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design states: “Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing.”

To contain the outbreak, the UK government quickly moved to design clear, consistent messaging, taking advantage of the rule of three : “ Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives. ” It was widely distributed via the internet and media. People received texts, got emails, and saw posters on the street, all of which has proved to be very effective.

Design thinking in government

Unfortunately, not all governments are created equal, and too little came too late from too many. Particularly when lives are at stake, clear and consistent instructions from healthcare services and authorities need to be out sooner rather than later.

In an ideal scenario, an emergency “design commission” with an army of volunteer designers and content strategists could spring into action to rapidly craft and test various designs. Taking the design thinking phases of empathize, define, and ideate , this rapid response team of designers could assist authorities with formulating the right kind of messaging.

During the final phase of design thinking: implementation , governments could text millions of people with new rules around social distancing with the help of mobile operators. Getting information out rapidly over a variety of channels would ensure people receive the right kind of information promptly.

Design thinking in government messaging

The primary goal of content strategists and information designers working with healthcare services is not only to convey vital information but to reduce people’s “cognitive load.” Borrowed from cognitive psychology, it is a frequently used term in UX and describes the process where, unable to process an overload of critical information, the brain shuts down.

Information designers can observe the Laws of UX and apply two of its “golden rules” to reduce cognitive load: Hick’s Law and Miller’s Law. Hick’s Law states that “the time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices,” so minimalist, uncomplicated designs are best when people need to make a decision. For example, it could be applied to an infographic outlining whether to use facial masks or not.

Design thinking in healthcare

In an extreme scenario, both of these laws could be violated simultaneously by confusing pictograms meant to convey vital information, i.e., presenting too many choices and asking people to remember too many things.

The third UX principle that could be adopted for powerful information design is the Von Restorff Effect , which can help people recall information more easily. It states that “items that stand out from their peers are more memorable.” Designers can use the Von Restorff Effect to design effective, memorable information that needs to be conveyed quickly and convincingly.

Using the Laws of UX for design thinking in government

The Psychology of Panic Buying

Experts say hoarding essential supplies despite reassurances from experts that shortages of everyday household goods are unlikely is motivated by a natural human reaction to stress and uncertainty.

When crises occur, people quite naturally want to regain control. We tend to run with the herd, thinking: “If everyone else is buying toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and pasta, I should probably do the same.”

How can stores prevent or at least get ahead of this kind of behavior? Reflecting on the principles of UX design, it’s about “knowing your user.” Becoming keenly aware of previous events, patterns, and behaviors that lead to the raiding of aisles in supermarkets and pharmacies could mitigate the problem.

Design thinking service design could alleviate supermarket panic buying

Aligning the panic-shopping phenomenon with the user interface heuristic “visibility of system status,” clear signage throughout the shopping experience could curtail the rush to stock up on essentials. Governments could raise awareness through the media and send uniform signage to grocery stores to calm nerves and inform shoppers that there is plenty to go around.

If there is a principle that is sacred to UX designers, it's know your user. After all, how can we design something for people without in-depth, detailed knowledge of them? Don Norman , co-founder and Principal Emeritus of Nielsen Norman Group

Design thinking in business

Product and Service Design in the Age of COVID-19

Effective solutions are desperately needed to a myriad of problems foisted on the world by COVID-19. As a result, the pandemic is powering innovation on an atypical scale and pace not normally considered. Apart from PPEs (personal protective equipment), hospital beds, and face shields, ventilators are in short supply, which has sparked an astounding number of design breakthroughs. And that’s just one area where necessity has proved itself to be the mother of invention.

Innovation is now recognized as the single most important ingredient in any modern economy. Tom Kelley, IDEO Partner

Self-diagnosis at home, monitoring those who are infected, widespread testing, and contact tracing are just a few design problems that need solving. Dealing with emergent mental health issues, panic buying, and social distancing caused by lockdowns is another. Endless design problems with unique challenges present themselves during global crises, and exciting design opportunities abound.

Fusing advanced technology with design thinking, designers have an opportunity to bring forth many innovative products and services.

The design thinking framework

Design Thinking in Healthcare: Test, Trace, and Treat

In the battle to contain the contagion, employing the test, trace, and treat approach is unavoidable. Widespread testing and contact tracing are needed to identify and alert people who have come into contact with a person infected with the coronavirus.

Putting into practice the user-centered design process, designers could brainstorm new ideas with the “ how might we ” method. It would require us to accept that we don’t currently know the answer and foster a collaborative approach to solving it. IDEO calls it “ challenge mapping ,” which is very similar to the 5 Whys method for problem-solving (developed at Toyota in the 1930s).

For example, currently, home test kits are not reliable for testing for novel coronavirus infection. But the steps in the design thinking process could be applied to make them ready for the next one.

Under empathizing and defining , we can understand the problem; with ideation and prototyping, we can explore the most cost-effective way to make them; and with testing and implementation , we can refine and deliver an effective solution. In this way, millions of home test kits could be designed, prototyped, and tested .

Contact-tracing app - design thinking in government

Mobile apps and big data are ideal partners for contact tracing. When people develop symptoms, how can they know if it’s COVID-19? An AI-powered COVID-19 symptom checker app could “listen” to coughs and breathing, as well as measure body temperature and heart rate via an external wristband. Comparing results with large sets of previous data, it would come up with a diagnosis. Once the symptoms are confirmed, the app can then advise users on an appropriate course of action.

Looking at social distancing, apps could be designed that alert people if they’re getting too close to someone. It could be wearable tech, such as a chest camera, that would send an audible alert to their mobile device (or their earphones).

Design thinking service design

COVID-19 and Mental Health – Living in Isolation

As authorities race to stem the spread of the coronavirus by shuttering everything we take for granted, some experts fear the consequences on people’s mental health, and the longer a quarantine continues, the greater the effect.

Experts say that depression, anxiety, and suicides typically emerge from traumatic events, such as widespread lockdowns and the uncertainty of the pandemic. The impact is worse for those with existing mental health conditions, the elderly, the vulnerable, and the self-isolating.

US-based full-time freelance UX designers wanted

Eight to 10 days after they were quarantined due to the spread of COVID-19, more than half the participants in a recent study reported the adverse psychological effects of the outbreak as “moderate or severe.” Can design thinking address people’s protracted isolation and look for ways to alleviate mental stress?

We can take steps from the design thinking process and approach problems from the user’s perspective: empathize with sufferers and ideate solutions. Healthcare services could support the availability of high-quality, remote counseling by therapists, psychiatric nurses, and doctors. However, the ease of use (usability) of these digital services is crucial, as well as the simplicity of making an appointment.

Telehealth counseling - design thinking in healthcare

For many people, talking to friends and family over video calls helps. However, according to Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, the elderly are typically not tech-savvy users and “need dramatically simplified software” that works with a push of a button. For them, making a video call needs to be almost as simple as using a lightswitch.

To help detect depression, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have recently developed an AI system that can detect if a person is suffering from depression by analyzing their speech patterns. Such an AI system can power a mobile app that monitors a person’s speaking patterns, detects mental distress, and sends an alert to doctors. It could prove especially useful for those who can’t get to a doctor for an initial diagnosis due to distance, cost, or a lack of awareness that something may be wrong.

Designing Better Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When stepping out of home isolation, protection is on everyone’s mind. During lockdowns, people still need to get essential supplies, pick up medication, and get some exercise.

As designers approach the new norms and apply design thinking to personal protection, a window of opportunity opens up for design innovation. We can empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement . For example, designers could envision washable gloves made of comfortable material that offer sufficient protection and would become part of our daily protective wear.

For those with a smartwatch, using haptic vibration , apps could sound an alert as the wearer is about to touch their face. Fashionable face masks that are easy to manage yet block airborne viruses could be designed.

The design thinking methodology can be applied to any product design such as face masks

The lack of personal protective equipment for medical professionals is prompting design innovation at an unprecedented scale. In any healthcare system, there are not only the patients to consider but their families, the doctors, nurses, and other support personnel. A holistic system including all its components needs to be considered in order to see where design can help.

It’s putting the person, the human at the centre of what you do. Because no matter what industry or sector you’re in, there’s a human in there somewhere, so just anticipate and consider their needs. Kathryn Townsend, Head of Customer & Client Accessibility, Barclays UK

During the ideation phase in design thinking, it’s unlikely the ultimate solution to the problem will be discovered. The point is to come up with as many ideas as possible, sort through them to find the best ones (which will likely be some combination of user needs, practicality, cost-effectiveness, and other factors specific to the project), and then figure out which ideas should move on to the next step: prototyping .

Design thinking use case in healthcare

Challenging assumptions is key to defining what is or isn’t a viable solution that can lead to innovative ideas. The idea is to try everything, even if some turn out to be duds.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas Edison

As intensive care units are overwhelmed, there is an acute shortage of ventilators. Some ventilator manufacturers are forming partnerships with various firms and working around the clock to make them as fast as possible. Hope is also riding on smaller design labs that could make ventilators more quickly.

With ideation and prototyping , a team led by University of Oxford professors along with a student and professors from King’s College of London have defined a simple, safe, and scalable ventilator design that meets the strict specifications for use with patients. The design exploits off-the-shelf components and equipment with parts that can be produced using 3D printing, cutting costs dramatically.

“In less than two weeks, the students, researchers, and academics driving this project have developed into a highly structured and efficient team, brainstormed a prototype, and won government backing,” professor Mark Thompson of Oxford said.

Design thinking in government and healthcare can produce much needed ventilators

Contactless Everything Is King

Naturally, people fear contact with anything when a tap on a screen or keypad can cause a fatal infection. Touch-based UIs are not favored, and paying with cash isn’t permitted in many grocery stores. Out are ATMs, supermarket keypads, and vending machines; in are contactless transportation passes and payment terminals where people can use contactless cards, ApplePay, and Google Pay.

And then there is radar tech like Google’s Project Soli for contactless interactions.

Project Soli is developing a new interaction sensor using radar technology. The sensor tracks sub-millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale, and built into small devices and everyday objects. Soli is a miniature radar that understands human motions at various scales: from the tap of a finger to body movements.

Contactless payment terminals are already here, but soon, using radar-powered motion sensors, contactless UIs should be possible for everything from ATMs to vending machines. Interacting may be slower with these UIs, but “contactless-modes” will be safer to use. When there is no longer a need, systems can switch back to touch-based interactions.

Shopping for essentials in contactless stores would be a boon during global pandemics. Computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning systems can enable checkout-free shopping experiences. Are checkout-free stores like Amazon Go Grocery ahead of their time?

Amazon Go Grocery is an example of design thinking in business

Data Visualization and Analysis

Putting cities under lockdown is not enough. Testing, contact tracing, home isolation, and rapid treatment are vital —all of which generate a lot of unstructured data. A sea of data coming in is good, but data alone doesn’t speak and doesn’t help make informed decisions. It’s tantamount to drinking from a firehose.

Policymakers and hospital leaders need to make informed decisions based on facts backed by data. For systems to function well, we not only need data but more importantly, robust data analysis and data visualization tools. Again, “ visibility of system status ” takes on vital importance. Patterns need to be identified, the spread of the virus visualized, and disease conditions monitored 24/7.

To facilitate better decision-making, researchers and startups are using artificial intelligence and other technologies to predict where the virus might appear next and how fast it will spread. These AI tools may use advanced technology and algorithms, but many of them suffer from poor usability. They need to be well-designed, present data efficiently, and communicate complexity with clarity through sophisticated data visualization.

UX designers have an opportunity to step in and make improvements. Once again, they can turn to the design thinking process: define the problem, ideate solutions, prototype, test , and implement the next generation of data visualization tools.

Data visualization aided by the design thinking process

Closing Thoughts

The rapid spread of the coronavirus and the disorganized and erratic response of many governments demonstrates how unprepared we are in dealing with a global pandemic. No one looked at the COVID-19 outbreak as a design problem, but the crisis offers a chance to question the wisdom of old habits and to explore out-of-the-box thinking. Applying the design thinking process, designers and design thinkers can play a vital role in diagnosing the most pressing issues and come up with solutions.

Tumult and upheaval have altered history with wars, plagues, and chaos, sometimes leading to positive growth. We can look for a silver lining in the current calamity: COVID-19 is forcing the world to rethink its outmoded routines and power a remarkable pace of design innovation. Many design breakthroughs of the current crisis will be short-lived, but many will have staying power because they solve big problems. It’s up to designers to get to work.

Let us know what you think! Please leave your thoughts, comments, and feedback below.

Further reading on the Toptal Design Blog:

Understanding the basics

How do you describe service design.

Service design is the action of determining what elements of a service will provide the optimal experience for its users by examining the service’s communication, infrastructure, and material components as well as the users’ interactions with it.

Why is service design important?

Service design provides design tools and a structure that help companies get to know their customers, their needs and desires, and to provide them with a superior experience. It drives profits and offers companies ways to reduce cost as well as achieve a competitive advantage.

What are the benefits of service design?

Effective service design creates an optimal experience for users. It considers all stakeholders, fosters collaboration, creates consistency, offers cost reduction, and helps to keep companies agile by embracing change. Design thinking in service design can help.

What is the difference between misinformation and disinformation?

Misinformation is false information that's given without malice, and disinformation is false information, such as government propaganda, that's given with the intention to deceive.

What is design thinking not?

Design thinking is not about lightly updating existing designs and generating "alternative" solutions. A simplified approach to design thinking impedes real innovation. Many designers dislike the notion of design thinking because, to them, it tends to reduce the design process into an easy-to-follow formula.

Located in London, United Kingdom

Member since May 20, 2016

About the author

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What Is Design Thinking? A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide

Design thinking is both an ideology and a process, concerned with solving complex problems in a highly user-centric way.

In this guide, we’ll give you a detailed definition of design thinking, illustrate exactly what the process involves, and underline why it matters: What is the value of design thinking, and in what contexts is it particularly useful?

We’ll also analyze the relationship between user experience design and design thinking and discuss two real-world case studies that show design thinking in action.

All sound a little overwhelming? Don’t worry—we’ve broken the guide down into digestible chunks.

If you want to skip to a certain section, just click on the relevant menu heading and you’ll go straight there.

Ready to explore the fascinating world of Design Thinking? Let’s go!

1. What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is an approach used for practical and creative problem-solving. It is based heavily on the methods and processes that designers use (hence the name), but it has actually evolved from a range of different fields—including architecture, engineering and business. Design thinking can also be applied to any field; it doesn’t necessarily have to be design-specific.

For an audio-visual introduction, watch this video from design expert and CareerFoundry mentor, Camren Browne:

It’s important to note that design thinking is different from user-centered design . Learn more about this other approach to design here: Design Thinking vs. User-Centered Design .

Design thinking is extremely user-centric. It focuses on humans first and foremost , seeking to understand people’s needs and come up with effective solutions to meet those needs. It is what we call a solution-based approach to problem-solving.

What does this actually mean? Let’s take a look.

What’s the difference between Solution-Based and Problem-Based Thinking?

As the name suggests, solution-based thinking focuses on finding solutions; coming up with something constructive to effectively tackle a certain problem. This is the opposite of problem-based thinking, which tends to fixate on obstacles and limitations.

A good example of these two approaches in action is an empirical study carried out by Bryan Lawson, a Professor of Architecture at the University of Sheffield. Lawson wanted to investigate how a group of designers and a group of scientists would approach a particular problem.

He set each group the task of creating one-layer structures from a set of coloured blocks. The perimeter of the structure had to use either as many red bricks or as many blue bricks as possible (we can think of this is as the solution, the desired outcome), but there were unspecified rules regarding the placement and relationship of some of the blocks (the problem or limitation).

Lawson published his findings in his book How Designers Think , in which he observed that the scientists focused on identifying the problem (problem-based thinking) whilst the designers prioritized the need to find the right solution:

“The scientists adopted a technique of trying out a series of designs which used as many different blocks and combinations of blocks as possible as quickly as possible. Thus they tried to maximise the information available to them about the allowed combinations. If they could discover the rule governing which combinations of blocks were allowed, they could then search for an arrangement which would optimise the required colour around the layout.”

The designers, on the other hand:

“…selected their blocks in order to achieve the appropriately coloured perimeter. If this proved not to be an acceptable combination, then the next most favourably coloured block combination would be substituted and so on until an acceptable solution was discovered.”

Lawson’s findings go to the heart of what Design Thinking is all about: it’s an iterative process which favours ongoing experimentation until the right solution is found.

To learn more, check out this video introduction to design thinking , led by expert designer Camren Browne. For now, let’s take a look at the design thinking process and what that entails.

2. What is the Design Thinking process?

As already mentioned, the Design Thinking process is progressive and highly user-centric . Before looking at the process in more detail, let’s consider the four principles of Design Thinking as laid out by Christoph Meinel and Harry Leifer of the Hasso-Plattner-Institute of Design at Stanford University, California.

The Four Principles of Design Thinking

The Five Phases of Design Thinking

Based on these four principles, the Design Thinking process can be broken down into five steps or phases, as per the aforementioned Hasso-Plattner-Institute of Design at Stanford (otherwise known as d.school): Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.

Phase 1: Empathise

Empathy provides the critical starting point for Design Thinking . The first stage of the process is spent getting to know the user and understanding their wants, needs and objectives.

This means observing and engaging with people in order to understand them on a psychological and emotional level. During this phase, the designer seeks to set aside their assumptions and gather real insights about the user. Learn all about key empathy-building methods in our guide .

Phase 2: Define

The second stage in the Design Thinking process is dedicated to defining the problem. You’ll gather all of your findings from the empathise phase and start to make sense of them: what difficulties and barriers are your users coming up against? What patterns do you observe? What is the big user problem that your team needs to solve?

By the end of the define phase, you will have a clear problem statement . The key here is to frame the problem in a user-centered way; rather than saying “We need to…”, frame it in terms of your user: “Retirees in the Bay area need…”

Once you’ve formulated the problem into words, you can start to come up with solutions and ideas — which brings us onto stage three.

Phase 3: Ideate

With a solid understanding of your users and a clear problem statement in mind, it’s time to start working on potential solutions. The third phase in the Design Thinking process is where the creativity happens, and it’s crucial to point out that the ideation stage is a judgement-free zone!

Designers will hold ideation sessions in order to come up with as many new angles and ideas as possible. There are many different types of ideation technique that designers might use, from brainstorming and mindmapping to bodystorming (roleplay scenarios) and provocation—an extreme lateral-thinking technique that gets the designer to challenge established beliefs and explore new options and alternatives.

Towards the end of the ideation phase, you’ll narrow it down to a few ideas with which to move forward. You can learn about all the most important ideation techniques in this guide .

Phase 4: Prototype

The fourth step in the Design Thinking process is all about experimentation and turning ideas into tangible products. A prototype is basically a scaled-down version of the product which incorporates the potential solutions identified in the previous stages. This step is key in putting each solution to the test and highlighting any constraints and flaws.

Throughout the prototype stage, the proposed solutions may be accepted, improved, redesigned or rejected depending on how they fare in prototype form. You can read all about the prototyping stage of Design Thinking in our in-depth guide .

Phase 5: Test

After prototyping comes user testing, but it’s important to note that this is rarely the end of the Design Thinking process. In reality, the results of the testing phase will often lead you back to a previous step, providing the insights you need to redefine the original problem statement or to come up with new ideas you hadn’t thought of before. Learn all about user testing in this guide .

Is Design Thinking a linear process?

No! You might look at these clearly defined steps and see a very logical sequence with a set order. However, the Design Thinking process is not linear; it is flexible and fluid, looping back and around and in on itself! With each new discovery that a certain phase brings, you’ll need to rethink and redefine what you’ve done before—you’ll never be moving in a straight line!

3. What is the purpose of Design Thinking?

Now we know more about how Design Thinking works, let’s consider why it matters. There are many benefits of using a Design Thinking approach—be it in a business, educational, personal or social context.

First and foremost, Design Thinking fosters creativity and innovation. As human beings, we rely on the knowledge and experiences we have accumulated to inform our actions. We form patterns and habits that, while useful in certain situations, can limit our view of things when it comes to problem-solving.

Rather than repeating the same tried-and-tested methods, Design Thinking encourages us to remove our blinkers and consider alternative solutions. The entire process lends itself to challenging assumptions and exploring new pathways and ideas.

Design Thinking is often cited as the healthy middle ground of problem-solving—it is not steeped wholly in emotion and intuition, nor does it rely solely on analytics, science and rationale; it uses a mixture of both.

Another great benefit of Design Thinking is that it puts humans first. By focusing so heavily on empathy, it encourages businesses and organizations to consider the real people who use their products and services—meaning they are much more likely to hit the mark when it comes to creating meaningful user experiences. For the user, this means better, more useful products that actually improve our lives. For businesses, this means happy customers and a healthier bottom line.

What’s a “wicked problem” in Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is especially useful when it comes to solving “wicked problems”. The term “wicked problem” was coined by design theorist Horst Rittel in the 1970s to describe particularly tricky problems that are highly ambiguous in nature.

With wicked problems, there are many unknown factors; unlike “tame” problems, there is no definitive solution. In fact, solving one aspect of a wicked problem is likely to reveal or give rise to further challenges. Another key characteristic of wicked problems is that they have no stopping point; as the nature of the problem changes over time, so must the solution.

Solving wicked problems is therefore an ongoing process that requires Design Thinking! Some examples of wicked problems in our society today include things like poverty, hunger, and climate change.

If you’d like to learn more about them, and how Design Thinking can help tackle them, check out our full guide to wicked problems .

4. Design Thinking in the workplace: How do Design Thinking, lean, and agile work together?

Now we know what Design Thinking is, let’s consider how it fits into the overall product design process. You may be familiar with the terms “lean” and “agile”—and, as a UX designer, it’s important to understand how these three approaches work together.

What are lean and agile?

Based on the principles of lean manufacturing, lean UX focuses on streamlining the design process as much as possible—minimizing waste and maximizing value. Some core tenets of lean UX are:

Lean UX is a technique that works in conjunction with agile development methods. Agile is a software development process that works in iterative, incremental cycles known as sprints. Unlike traditional development methods, agile is flexible and adaptive. Based on the Agile Development Manifesto created in 2001, agile adheres to the following principles:

Combining Design Thinking with lean and agile

Design Thinking, lean, and agile are often seen as three separate approaches. Companies and teams will ask themselves whether to use lean or agile or Design Thinking—but actually, they can (and should!) be merged for optimal results.

Why? Because applying Design Thinking in a lean, agile environment helps to create a product development process that is not only user-centric, but also highly efficient from a business perspective. While it’s true that each approach has its own modus operandi, there is also significant overlap.

Combining principles from each can be crucial in keeping cross-functional teams on the same page—ensuring that designers, developers, product managers, and business stakeholders are all collaborating on one common vision.

So how do Design Thinking, lean, and agile work together?

As Jonny Schneider, Product Strategy and Design Principal at ThoughtWorks , explains: “Design Thinking is how we explore and solve problems; Lean is our framework for testing our beliefs and learning our way to the right outcomes; Agile is how we adapt to changing conditions with software.”

That’s all well and good, but what does it look like in practice?

As we’ve learned, Design Thinking is a solution-based approach to exploring and solving problems. It focuses on generating ideas with a specific problem in mind, keeping the user at the heart of the process throughout. Once you’ve established and designed a suitable solution, you’ll start to incorporate lean principles —testing your ideas, gathering quick and ongoing feedback to see what works—with particular emphasis on cross-team collaboration and overcoming departmental silos.

Agile ties all of this into short sprint cycles, allowing for adaptability in the face of change. In an agile environment, products are improved and built upon incrementally. Again, cross-team collaboration plays a crucial role; agile is all about delivering value that benefits both the end user and the business as a whole.

Together, Design Thinking, lean, and agile cut out unnecessary processes and documentation, leveraging the contributions of all key stakeholders for continuous delivery and improvement.

5. What are the benefits of Design Thinking at work?

As a designer, you have a pivotal role to play in shaping the products and experiences that your company puts to market. Integrating Design Thinking into your process can add huge business value, ultimately ensuring that the products you design are not only desirable for customers, but also viable in terms of company budget and resources.

With that in mind, let’s consider some of the main benefits of using Design Thinking at work:

Whether you’re establishing a Design Thinking culture on a company-wide scale, or simply trying to improve your approach to user-centric design, Design Thinking will help you to innovate, focus on the user, and ultimately design products that solve real user problems.

6. Design Thinking methodology in action: Case studies

So we’ve looked in quite some detail at the theory behind Design Thinking and the processes involved — but what does this look like in action? Let’s explore some case studies where Design Thinking has made a huge real-world impact .

Healthcare Case Study: How Design Thinking transformed the Rotterdam Eye Hospital

Executives at the Rotterdam Eye Hospital wanted to transform the patient experience from the typically grim, anxiety-riddled affair into something much more pleasant and personal. To do this, they incorporated Design Thinking and design principles into their planning process. Here’s how they did it:

First, they set out to understand their target user — patients entering the hospital for treatment. The hospital CEO, CFO, managers, staff and doctors established that most patients came into hospital with the fear of going blind.

Based on their findings from the empathise stage, they determined that fear reduction needed to be a priority. Their problem statement may have looked something like the following: “Patients coming into our hospital need to feel comfortable and at ease.”

Armed with a deep understanding of their patients and a clear mission statement, they started to brainstorm potential solutions. As any good design thinker would, they sought inspiration from a range of both likely and unlikely sources. They looked to flagship airline KLM and supermarket chain Albert Heijn to learn about scheduling, for example, while turning to other medical organizations for inspiration on operational excellence.

In the prototyping stage, the team presented the most promising ideas they had come up with so far to those in charge of caregiving at the hospital. These teams of caregivers then used these insights to design informal, small-scale experiments that could test a potential solution and see if it was worthy of wide-scale adoption.

The testing phase consisted of running the aforementioned experiments and seeing if they took off. As Dirk Deichmann and Roel van der Heijde explain , the “transition to formal adoption of these ideas tended to be more gradual. If an idea worked, sooner or later other groups would ask if they could try it too, and the best ideas spread organically.”

The outcome

By adopting a Design Thinking approach, the Rotterdam Eye Hospital were able to get to the heart of their users’ needs and find effective solutions to fulfil them. In doing so, they have greatly improved the user experience: patient intake has risen 47%, and the hospital has since won several awards for safety, quality and design.

Business Case Study: How Design Thinking helped financial service provider MLP regain consumer trust

After the financial crisis hit, financial service provider MLP found that consumer trust was at an all-time low. They needed to re-engage with their target users and come up with new ways of building trust. In search of innovation, they decided to test out a Design Thinking approach. Here’s what they learned:

By focusing on their users and making a conscious effort to understand their needs first-hand, MLP learned that the assumptions they’d been going on were not so accurate after all. As Thomas Freese, division manager for marketing at MLP, explains :

“We always used to speak to customers about the goals they want to achieve. But they do not want to commit to a certain goal, as they often do not know themselves what that is. Rather, they want to talk about their ideas as it is more open and flexible regarding their financial planning.”

With this newfound empathy for their users, MLP were able to reframe their mission statement. They knew that they needed to rebuild consumer trust, and that the way to do this would be to speak to the customer in their own language and become a more relatable brand.

Ideate and Prototype

During the ideate and prototype phases, they decided to experiment with a completely new image. Instead of the formal business attire typically associated with the financial sector, the MLP team members went out in casual clothing. They tested Lego prototypes and homemade posters in designated hotspots — including a university campus and train stations.

By testing this new approach, they learned some extremely valuable lessons about their users and how to communicate with them. They found that even something as simple as dressing more casually had a huge impact in reducing the negative connotations associated with financial services. They also learned the value of asking open questions; rather than trying to sell their prototype, Design Thinking taught them to ask questions that focus on the user’s needs.

The Outcome

Their first foray into Design Thinking proved to be a huge learning curve for MLP. Taking the time to speak to their users gave them the insights they needed to redesign their messaging, allowing them to start marketing much more effectively.

In light of their findings, MLP opened up a new office space in a student district, putting their editorial and social media teams in close proximity to their customer base. Of course, Design Thinking is an iterative process, so this is just one way in which MLP hopes to continue learning to speak their customers’ language.

7. What is the relationship between Design Thinking and UX Design?

At this point, you’ve no doubt noticed lots of similarities between Design Thinking and user experience design , and may be wondering how they relate to one another. Both are extremely user-centric and driven by empathy, and UX designers will use many of the steps laid out in the Design Thinking process, such as user research , prototyping and testing.

Despite these similarities, there are certain distinctions that can be made between the two. For one, the impact of Design Thinking is often felt on a more strategic level; it explores a problem space—in the context of understanding users, technological feasibility, and business requirements—to discover possible solutions. As we have seen from the Rotterdam Eye Hospital and MLP case studies, Design Thinking is embraced and implemented by all different teams across the business, including C-level executives.

If Design Thinking focuses on finding solutions, UX design is concerned with actually designing these solutions and making sure they are usable, accessible and pleasant for the user.

You can think of Design Thinking as a toolset that UX designers dip into, and if you’re operating within the UX design field, it is one of many crucial methodologies you’ll rely on when it comes to creating fantastic user experiences. You can learn more about UX Design and Design Thinking in our UX Design Course , as well as earn a design thinking certification by completing a course in it.

Further reading

Want to see what design thinking looks like in practice? Here’s an article for you: 5 Game-Changing Examples of Design Thinking .

And if you’re new to the design field and wondering what all these newfangled terms mean, you may well be interested in the following guides:

Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 7.42.44 PM.png

A Case Study: Design Thinking

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Author: Ritu Bhattacharya

Top eLearning Tools

Design thinking has been providing innovative solutions across industries. There are plenty of examples on the Internet, how different industries are using design thinking to resolve business problems. But how is this relevant to the training development field? How does a course look before and after we take this problem-solving approach?

In this article, I will give an example of how design thinking can change our course design.

Case Study: A game-based learning experience

The story goes like this...

A client approaches an instructional designer with the requirement of a cybersecurity and corporate security related, game-based course for their new employees. This will be an awareness program for new employees and is intended to make them follow the security measures taken by the company.

Audience profile:

Age: 22 to 50

Designation: From staff to Senior Manager level

Availability: Moderately busy

Geographic location: Scattered all over the globe

Ethnicity: Diverse

Before proposing a suitable design, the ID takes care of the following aspects of the audience profile.

case studies of design thinking

Based on the audience analysis and subsequent implications, the ID proposes the following design:

There will be an overarching story where a hacker tries to gain access to some personal and financial information of the learner. The learners will have to resolve some problems to prevent the attack.

There will be a total of 25 problems to be resolved to save 25 pieces of personal and financial information.

These 25 problem scenarios will be distributed in five time-bound nuggets, 10 minutes each.

These nuggets need to be taken in a particular sequence.

The nuggets will be preceded by an introduction and followed by an end result where the learner will get to see how many pieces of information they have successfully saved from the hacker.

The total duration of the whole course will be 60 minutes. First a prototype was developed. The client SPOC along with the top management was highly impressed with the exact presentation of what was asked for. They passed on the prototype to the end user for testing.

The Failure

After a few days, the client came back with the complaint that they have received negative feedback from the end user. This was a shock for the ID. She was at a loss as to why the course failed while all aspects were taken care of. The project went off the floor.

Taking the Design Thinking Approach

So, what could have been done differently to make the course a roaring success? Notice that those who (the client) placed the requirement of a game-based learning experience liked the course while the actual users did not like it. Seemingly, a thorough need analysis for the training was done and the audience profile was correctly analyzed.

The only thing missing was an actual connection with the end users. This would have made the need analysis perfect and helped the ID understand the actual problem the end users faced on the floor and the kind of training they were looking forward to.

So, connecting with the audience is the key that would have made a huge difference.

Design thinking starts here. Design thinking is putting yourself in the end user's shoes, empathizing with them, defining their problems and then providing a solution to the problem.

How to ask the correct questions to the end users and handle situations where you cannot connect to the end users are relevant aspects to be explored in this context. I will not explore that aspect in this article. Follow my next article "Design thinking - Connecting to the audience" to explore that aspect.

For now, let's imagine that we interact with the audience and collect the following data.

The problem that the end users face is that they do not know about the security policies of the company and they often get unpleasant surprises after taking some actions. They want a course that will quickly make them aware of the security policies. For that a direct teaching would have been better. The game made them focus more on the game rules and fun.

Note that, though the focus on the content was taken into consideration, the focus should have been stronger.

Some of the senior employees on the other hand, did not like the concept of game at all as they are not fond of playing games. A simple presentation of actual scenarios involving security risks would have been better for them.

Some of the senior employees though fond of games do not have time to spend in playing games for digging out information. A direct, to-the-point-teaching was all that they were looking forward to.

Some of the employees were even looking forward to a ready reckoner kind of a thing that they could keep handy and refer to whenever they got time.

Some of the young employees disliked the simulated environment of losing all their personal data to a hacker. This demotivated them and they found it meaningless.

The New Design

Peeping into the audience's thought process opens up a new dimension. So, it is time to relook at the course and redesign it as per the end user's requirements.

From, the data that we received after an interview with the end user show a pattern:

For different reasons they did not want a game.

A to-the-point direct teaching would have been more effective.

Moreover, negative marking (in the form of loss of personal data) did not go well with some users.

The course could consist of a series of the most important and common scenarios of security risks. The learner would have to address that risk, get the correct answer and move to the next problem scenario. There could be reward points but no negative marking (e.g., loss of data).

This new design is simple but would have been effective in the context of the end users' actual requirement.

Many times, we propose gimmicks to dazzle the eyes of the end user without any real use. This may frustrate the user if it is not required. It is just like purchasing a car with plenty of features, half of which you do need to use at all or you do not understand why it is there. It is important to understand what your audience wants and meet the exact requirement and that is where you take the design thinking approach.

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Design thinking: study guide.

Summary:  Unsure where to start? Use this collection of links to our articles and videos to learn about design thinking.

By Kate Moran

on 2021-08-22 August 22, 2021

Here’s a list of NN/g’s most useful introductory articles and videos about design thinking and related topics. Within each section, the resources are in recommended reading order.

For hands-on training, check out  our full-day course on design thinking .

Design Thinking: An Overview

The  design thinking  framework is based on the philosophy that a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem solving promotes innovation; in turn, innovation can lead to differentiation and a competitive advantage. The design-thinking process is composed of 6 distinct phases:

The 6 Design Thinking Phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement

If you’re totally new to design thinking, we recommend that you explore the following resources in order, from top to bottom.

Empathize and Define

The first two stages in the design-thinking process are  Empathize  and  Define . They often involve creating visualizations (also referred to as mapping) that help the team keep track of findings and improvement opportunities.

Full day courses:

Once you’ve completed the first two stages, you’ll have identified some unmet user needs. The third phase in the design-thinking process is  Ideate :  generate a set of ideas to address those unmet needs. 

Full-day course:

Effective Ideation Techniques for UX Design

Prototype, Test, and Implement

The final three stages involve evaluating design ideas with real users to see how well those solutions work. 

These stages are often iterative — you might test a prototype and realize that it doesn’t work as well as you thought and that it needs to be refined.

About the Author

Kate Moran is Vice President with Nielsen Norman Group. She has extensive experience in conducting user research to guide UX strategy, with expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methods.

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Design thinking, wicked problems and institutioning change: a case study

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The popular rise in interest in design thinking has generated new opportunities for codesign approaches to be applied to domains outside the traditional province of design disciplines, such as education, social justice, and healthcare services. This creates opportunities to revisit some of the original connections between design research and wicked problems, and to reflect on what is lost, and what stands to be gained, by the sustained application of design-based approaches to intractable, multi-stakeholder problems encountered in other cooperative design arenas. In this paper we discuss a case in which we sought to redesign fundamental aspects of the common law process by which workers seek damages from their employer as a result of injuries sustained at work. We use the case as a basis to critically discuss the promise and challenges of codesigning our way out of genuinely wicked problems.


The research reported here was approved by The University of Queensland human ethics committee (application HE001187); informed consent was obtained from each person prior to their participation in the project. We are grateful to the stakeholders from each side of this issue for their participation, and willingness to explore new perspectives and methods. The research project was made possible by Workcover Qld by virtue of their interest in adopting codesign approaches to the common law claims process.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

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8 Great Design Thinking Examples

Wondering if design thinking works here’s a collection of design thinking case studies that show how organizations have applied design thinking..

Design thinking is imperative for companies to unleash their team’s full potential. Let us take a deep dive into 8 great Design Thinking Examples!

In the Harvard Business Review article “ Why Design Thinking Works ,” Jeanne Liedtka reveals the results of a seven-year study she did looking at 50 business projects in a range of sectors. What she found was this: “I have seen that…design thinking…has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM [total quality management] did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes .”

Design thinking is an undeniably powerful tool for companies, but what does it look like in practice?

Design thinking is an undeniably powerful tool for companies , but what does it look like in practice? How have organizations applied it and how does it work? Is design thinking training something your company needs? Read the following design thinking examples and case studies to discover how design thinking has been successfully applied by many companies. Bonus: learn the key foundations in design thinking to better solve problems and seize opportunities in our Design Thinking Foundations e-course –an excellent tool for the entire team.

How has design thinking been applied to different industries, challenges, and business sectors? Here are eight examples of how it has impacted real companies and teams.

Published in First Round Review, this article —  “How Design Thinking Transformed Airbnb from a Failing Startup to a Billion Dollar Business ” —outlines how the famed start-up went from $200 a week profit to the “ unicorn ” it is today.

Design thinking is a part of Airbnb’s success; in particular, they built a culture of experimentation: “It was only when they gave themselves permission to experiment with non-scalable changes to the business that they climbed out of what they called the ‘trough of sorrow.’”

Airbnb listing

2. PillPack

This case study describes how PillPack started as a startup-in-residence at IDEO Cambridge. Working with designers and using a human-centered approach, PillPack refined their brand vision, strategy, and identity across channels.

PillPack was called one of the best inventions of 2014 by Time Magazine and Amazon bought PillPack for $1 Billion in 2018. I think you could safely say that their design thinking approach was successful.

PillPack delivery

3. Clean Team

There are many great examples of how design thinking has been applied to the social sector . This case study describes Clean Team, which applied design thinking to provide in-home toilets for Ghana’s urban poor.

The case study describes the project and its success: “For the millions of Ghanaians without in-home toilets, there are few good options when it comes to our bodies’ most basic functions. Working with Unilever and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), and IDEO.org developed Clean Team , a comprehensive sanitation system that delivers and maintains toilets in the homes of subscribers. Clean Team now serves 5,000 people in Kumasi, Ghana, making lives cleaner, healthier, and more dignified.”

The Clean Team

IBM is an example of a corporate giant who has deeply invested in design thinking and building a large internal design team . And, they’ve seen the work pay off — this article talks about how IBM has seen a 301% (!) ROI by banking on design thinking. Another impressive thing about IBM is that they’ve made their enterprise design thinking assets available to everyone through this open toolkit .

case studies of design thinking

Start our Design Thinking Foundations course today!

Learn and practice design thinking to help your team solve problems and seize opportunities..

IBM’s design thinking model.

5. Stanford Hospital

Design thinking has even found its way into the world of medicine and is seen by many as fundamental to the future of wellness . This case study describes how design thinking was used in a two-day course by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford to explore ways to improve the patient experience in the emergency room.

Additionally, the article describes how Stanford administrators have been using design thinking to envision other new experiences for the hospital: “SHC staff used design thinking to complete a plan to redesign two nursing units in the current hospital to serve only patients with cancer.”

Stanford Hospital reception desk

6. Uber Eats

This article by a former designer on the UberEATS team describes how they approach their food delivery service with a design thinking mindset. One of the top takeaways from the article is how empathy is essential to their practice: “To understand all our different markets and how our products fit into the physical conditions of each city, we constantly immerse ourselves in the places where our customers live, work, and eat. Sitting in our offices in San Francisco or New York, we can’t truly understand the experiences of a person on the streets of Bangkok or London.”

Uber Eats delivery person

7. Golden Gate Regional Center

The Harvard Business Review article “Better Service, Faster: A Design Thinking Case Study ” describes how design thinking was used by the Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC) , an organization that provides services and financial support to people with developmental disabilities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

GGRC worked with design students from Stanford to rethink their lengthy assessment process, which often took months. One outcome of the project was a culture change inside GGRC toward design thinking: “GGRC is now brainstorming improvement ideas and figuring out ways to prototype them on a regular basis.”

Golden Gate Bridge

8. Bank of America

We’ll end with one of the classic design thinking examples, which comes from Bank of America. Invision’s case study shares how the bank partnered with design consultancy IDEO in 2004 to understand how to get more people to open bank accounts. They ultimately came up with the Keep the Change program. This highly successful banking initiative came out of the design thinking research the IDEO team did where they found savers were intentionally rounding up when writing checks.

Money on a counter

To learn more about how to apply the design thinking process to business, go here . If you want to build your own toolkit of design thinking tools, check out our resources.If you’re ready to start using design thinking, sign up for our online course.

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  1. Design Thinking in Practice: 3 Case Studies

    case studies of design thinking

  2. Case Study template

    case studies of design thinking

  3. Case Studies

    case studies of design thinking

  4. 15+ Case Study Examples, Design Tips & Templates

    case studies of design thinking

  5. Design Thinking

    case studies of design thinking

  6. Explore: Design Thinking Case Studies

    case studies of design thinking


  1. 05 Design Thinking

  2. L2 3 What is Design Thinking

  3. How to do the Design Thinking Process?

  4. Innovation & Creative Thinking by Online Case Method《Global MBA》


  6. Design Thinking #5


  1. Explore: Design Thinking Case Studies

    There are many Design Thinking Case Study examples on the web, but few meet the criteria for a robust case study: a clear description of the methodology, steps undertaken, experimentation through rapid prototypes and testing with people and finally documented results from the process.

  2. 5 Examples of Design Thinking in Business

    Here are five examples of well-known brands that have leveraged design thinking to solve business problems. 1. GE Healthcare GE Healthcare is an example of a company that focused on user-centricity to improve a product that seemingly had no problems.

  3. Design Thinking Case Study Index

    The Design Thinking Case Study Index is arranged according to market or industry verticals to help you find relevant Case Studies for your industry. THE DESIGN THINKING CASE STUDY INDEX BANKING Bank of America Helps Customers Keep the Change- IDEO Bank of America: Keep the Change - an HBR Case Study

  4. Design Thinking Case Studies

    Design Thinking Case Studies Find examples of how design thinking is used to solve problems, prototype, and innovate. As more organizations and companies across the world adopt design thinking into their operations, it becomes even more obvious just how essential innovation is for continued success and growth.

  5. Better Service, Faster: A Design Thinking Case Study

    Better Service, Faster: A Design Thinking Case Study. by. Robert I. Sutton. and. David Hoyt. January 06, 2016. On February 14, 2014, Stanford students Elizabeth Woodson and Saul Gurdus drove a ...

  6. 40 Design Thinking Success Stories

    Awesome Case of Designing an Entire High School Via Design Thinking One School District's Approach to Innovation For the 21st Century Dense but Rich Dissertation of Use of Design Thinking in a School District Memorial School - Design Thinking in a Medford, MA Elementary School The Power of Empathy in the Elementary Classroom Financial Services

  7. Why Design Thinking Works

    What makes design thinking a social technology is its ability to counteract the biases of innovators and change the way they engage in the innovation process. Design thinking takes a different...

  8. A Design Thinking Case Study

    The Design Thinking process is particularly useful because it generates a unique and specific outcome: knowledge. This methodology has a wider scope of use, but for the purpose of this case study on Design Thinking, we will focus only on one specific field - Software Product Development. The Theory of Design Thinking

  9. Design Thinking Case Studies for Non-Designers

    Design thinking can be applied across many industries and disciplines, including HR. Design thinking is also useful for non-designers, too. Understand how the design thinking process works by looking at two case studies from Disney (Pixar) and NASA.

  10. Case Studies

    Design Thinking for Health! Case Studies Learn from inspiring nurse innovators on how they use design thinking to tackle today's most challenging healthcare issues. Kathy Bowles Co-Founder of RightCare Solutions watch Ernesto Holguin Patented the first ever foot care telehealth system WATCH Sarah Szanton

  11. IBM: Design Thinking

    Abstract. This case describes the 2012-2020 effort at IBM to implement design thinking throughout the company and hire thousands of designers to serve on every product team alongside technical engineers and developers and product managers. IBM's design transformation is told through the development of the Design Program Office—a new ...

  12. Design thinking case studies

    Design Thinking has evolved as a way to respond to deeper user insights, to connect more with people and with communities so that we can actually design solutions that are human-centred. Design Thinking is not just about products, but also helps create new processes, new systems, new services, and importantly even user experiences.

  13. A Case Study

    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-05906-3_8 Corpus ID: 249892898; A Case Study - Applying a Design Thinking Process and User Experience Goals in Developing Solutions for a Smart Construction Site

  14. What is Design Thinking?

    Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

  15. Journalism case studies that apply design thinking

    August 8, 2013. Design thinking has become a popular method among journalists who are interested in boosting creativity and better engaging their audiences. Stanford University's d.school offers ...

  16. Design Thinking Case Study: Innovation at Apple

    Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO, defines design thinking as follows: " Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. "

  17. COVID-19: The Ultimate Design Thinking Use Case

    As COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the world, this design thinking case study looks at product and service design opportunities that could dramatically improve the daily frustrations we are currently living with. Could designers use the design thinking process to solve emergent problems and come up with innovative solutions?

  18. What Exactly Is Design Thinking? [Updated Guide for 2023]

    Design thinking is an approach used for practical and creative problem-solving. It is based heavily on the methods and processes that designers use (hence the name), but it has actually evolved from a range of different fields—including architecture, engineering and business.

  19. A Case Study: Design Thinking and Instructional Design

    Design thinking has been providing innovative solutions across industries. Take a look at the case study to see how it can be applied in ID.

  20. Design Thinking: Study Guide

    The design thinking framework is based on the philosophy that a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem solving promotes innovation; in turn, innovation can lead to differentiation and a competitive advantage. The design-thinking process is composed of 6 distinct phases: Empathize. Define. Ideate.

  21. Design thinking, wicked problems and institutioning change: a case study

    In this paper we discuss a case in which we sought to redesign fundamental aspects of the common law process by which workers seek damages from their employer as a result of injuries sustained at work. We use the case as a basis to critically discuss the promise and challenges of codesigning our way out of genuinely wicked problems.

  22. 8 Great Design Thinking Examples

    Design thinking has even found its way into the world of medicine and is seen by many as fundamental to the future of wellness. This case study describes how design thinking was used in a two-day course by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford to explore ways to improve the patient experience in the emergency room.

  23. Design Thinking Resources

    Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving that starts with people and their needs. Anyone can use it to tap into their creative potential and grow relevant skills for the modern workplace. Explore tips from experts, real-world case studies, and quick activities to help you apply the skills and mindsets

  24. An Exploratory Quantitative Case Study of Critical Thinking Development

    Critical thinking is a metacognitive process that, through purposeful, self-regulatory reflective judgment; skills of analysis, evaluation and inference; and a disposition towards thinking, increases the chances of producing a logical conclusion to an argument or solution to a problem. Critical thinking is vital for not only educational achievement, but also continuous professional development ...