When we solve problems we typically take things at face value. If the customer asked for X we are going to give them X.
Typically there are additional demands on our time so we are just
happy to produce what has been requested. But if you were to take a step back,
broaden your thinking about the nature of the problem, and consider alternate
solutions then you would be engaging in Design Thinking.
Design Thinking takes the processes designers use and broadens the user base to
help anyone/everyone solve problems. It’s applying creativity and empathy to
problem solving. It is “thinking outside of the box” to put it in
Understand the Problem
Design Thinking starts with questioning the problem itself. When
taken at face value many problems are fairly straight forward but upon further
inspection the source of the problem may be far more complex. A useful
technique to better understand the nature of a problem is the 5 Whys, where one asks a
successive series of questions as to why something is a problem. Whether you
actually ask 5 is secondary, the important thing is that you continue to
question the nature of the problem to get far below the surface towards the
root of the problem. Only when you really understand the problem can you begin
to create solutions.
I say “solutions” plural because you need to generate a variety of
potential ideas. You don’t put all your eggs in one basket - similarly you
don’t put the entire success of a project into just one solution. When
brainstorming solutions it is worth mentioning that being in a good mood allows for more
diverse creative ideas through breadth-first processing. Complimenting the 5
Whys is asking 5 Hows - how could this potential solution fix the problem? how
would that work? how would the user be helped? etc. Just as you explored the
nature of the question you need to explore the nature of your possible
When you feel you have a few viable solutions you need to test your
ideas with real people. Testing allows the best ideas to move forward while
filtering out others. Build a working prototype, draw a prototype on paper,
whatever it takes but get the idea in-front of the user base and see how they
interact with it.
When you design things you are frequently designing for people
other than yourself. Design Thinking has a strong emphasis on empathy because
in order to make something for others to use you have to appreciate why &
how they are going to use it. Your users are experts at the thing your solution
is supposed to help them with. They are the ultimate judge of your ideas.
Design Thinking, when applied to UX design, is a great way to
better understand both the nature of a problem as well as the nature of other
people. It shows that the point of UX design isn’t to focus on the problems but
to focus on the people. If you stay focused on your users your solutions will
#Qlik's Michael Anthony suggests using design thinking to problem solve, find out why it works: