Design Thinking is a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.

We will focus on the five-stage Design Thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford ( is the leading university when it comes to teaching Design Thinking. The five stages of Design Thinking, according to, are as follows: Empathise, Define (the problem), Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Empathize: The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging, and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment so you can gain a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved.

Define: During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathise stage. This is where you will analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point.

Ideate: During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs in the Empathise stage, and you’ve analyzed and synthesized your observations in the Define stage, and ended up with a human-centered problem statement.

With this solid background, you and your team members can start to "think outside the box" to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.

Create options: The design team will now produce a number of inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product or specific features found within the product, so they can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage. Prototypes may be shared and tested within the team itself, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the design team.

Test: This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model, but in an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel, and to empathize.

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