squadprod June 25, 2021

The stages of Design Thinking

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Design Thinking makes it possible to think about innovation. Since its inception more than 50 years ago, many companies have adopted this design mode in their efforts to create new products or services. The result is impressive with so many success stories such as the multinational Airbnb, a perfect example of the application of Design Thinking.

Based on this motive, many professionals have taken up training in this area. On the other hand, several training centers in innovation techniques increasingly offer this service. Some of them have even developed this specialty, as is the case with Usabilis, the specialist in Design Thinking. The methods differ, but the purpose is the same. Who are the main followers of this process and what are the different stages of Design Thinking?

Design Thinking by definition

Workshops for the creation of new projects have long focused on a monotonous approach, often driven by the purely technical skills of the company. With Design Thinking, also called “design thinking”, the search for ideas involves more people by focusing the creative investigation on people. This is a new method of organizing work dedicated to innovation and focused on the end user: we use the designer’s toolbox to find an answer to any problem encountered by the consumer. The goal is therefore to create a new product or service that often solves a social or economic problem.

Design thinkers

As engineer, designer and IDEO founder David Kelly says, “Design Thinking is not a method, but it has fundamentally changed the organizational fabric of your business. “. This different perception of innovation therefore offers a common and simplistic approach: we become aware of the need to innovate, we identify the problem, we think about the solution, we test until we arrive at the final result.

Although the principle is unique, there are several thinkers of Design Thinking who each offer a different interpretation of this approach. Suddenly, we manage to identify several followers of this concept, the best known of which are Rolf Faste, Jeremy Gutsche and Tim Brown. The first being the director of the design product department at Stanford University, the university that pioneered the discovery of design thinking. Jeremy Gutsche is a well-known American entrepreneur and also a student of the same university. As for Tim Brown, he is the CEO of IDEO and one of the strong supporters of this method, focusing on the relationship between failure and success which we will explain in the second part of the article.

These two men, and many others, then segment the Design Thinking process into several stages while relying on common standards. Which ones?

The different stages of Design Thinking

The 7 stages of Rolf Faste

This is one of the first approaches that were invented to introduce Design Thinking. In his time, Rolf Faste found that the workshop whose mission was to innovate a product or service in the company should be organized as follows:

Define the problem: Identify the project that can solve the problem in question
The background: Bring together all the stakeholders of this workshop: designers, developers, marketing experts, technicians, etc. The goal is to clearly identify the problem linked to a need for consumption.
Ideation: Brainstorming through debate to collect ideas.
The prototype: The design of the first prototypes.
Select the best idea among those proposed by the participants.
The realization: Answer the questions: who does what and how? The goal is to make the project a reality by assigning each person’s roles according to the human and financial resources available.
Learning: Have the prototype compare to the market (customer) and make the necessary improvements based on the opinions received.

The perception of the youngest relayed by Jeremy Gutsche

Like his predecessor at Stanford University, Jeremy Gutsche rethought design thinking by reducing the process to 5 steps while leveraging a new element of empathy.

  • Empathy: Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes to understand their needs. Here, one acquires the right to wonder about needs that the consumer does not generally expose.
  • The definition of the problem.
  • Ideation.
  • The creation of a prototype
  • Testing with the end user.

Design thinking in 3 steps

We end this short analysis with Tim Brown’s approach to Design Thinking. This follower of “learning by mistake” finds in DT the perfect embodiment of his vision. When we fail, we learn better and we correct our mistakes. This procedure is at the heart of the 3-step method proposed by this gentleman:

  • Inspiration: Work begins with observing the business environment to understand customer behavior and identify first their problem, then the solution that meets their need.
  • Ideation: this is the most important step of the process (the most common too) which consists of generating ideas (brainstorming) and testing them with the end user as a way of optimizing the final product (learning by error).
  • Implementation: Identify the resources to manufacture the final product by focusing on simulation and storytelling techniques.


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