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Design thinking is a creative problem-solving approach that involves a holistic understanding of a problem, an in-depth exploration of possible solutions and a thorough testing process. For example, health professionals might find solutions to high diabetes rates by examining the deep root causes, including economic entanglements, barriers to healthy eating and exercise, and the constrictions of everyday people’s daily lives. By learning a new way of viewing the world, design thinkers can tackle messy problems that don’t have clear-cut answers.
The design thinking approach departs from past models that engaged design work at the final stages of a project, such as giving the finishing touches to a product before it’s put on the market — and then making incremental changes from time to time to follow trends and styles in the industry. Instead, design thinking breaks free from linear processes and strict definitions of who does design work — and what can be designed.
By creating solutions-oriented teams that involve people from a variety of backgrounds, including end users, this new approach lets insights grow as diverging perspectives lead to converging ideas. Starting the design process with an array of perspectives forces the design team to see familiar things in new ways, sparking new directions in thought — and innovation.