Cribbed entirely from Wikipedia – it’s a good meta view of a design process.
Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a process which includes the “building up” of ideas, with few, or no, limits on breadth during a “brainstorming” phase. This helps reduce fear of failure in the participant(s) and encourages input and participation from a wide variety of sources in the ideation phases. The phrase Outside the box thinking has been coined to describe one goal of the brainstorming phase and is encouraged, since this can aid in the discovery of hidden elements and ambiguities in the situation and discovering potentially faulty assumptions.
One version of the design thinking process has seven stages: define, research, ideate, prototype, choose, implement, and learn. Within these seven steps, problems can be framed, the right questions can be asked, more ideas can be created, and the best answers can be chosen. The steps aren’t linear; can occur simultaneously and be repeated. A more simplified expression of the process is Robert McKim’s phrase; “Express-Test-Cycle”.
- Decide what issue you are trying to resolve.
- Agree on who the audience is.
- Prioritize this project in terms of urgency.
- Determine what will make this project successful.
- Establish a glossary of terms.
- Review the history of the issue; remember any existing obstacles.
- Collect examples of other attempts to solve the same issue.
- Note the project supporters, investors, and critics.
- Talk to your end-users, that brings you the most fruitful ideas for later design.
- Take into account thought leaders’ opinions.
- Identify the needs and motivations of your end-users.
- Generate as many ideas as possible to serve these identified needs.
- Log your brainstorming session.
- Do not judge or debate ideas.
- During brainstorming, have one conversation at a time.
- Combine, expand, and refine ideas.
- Create multiple drafts.
- Seek feedback from a diverse group of people, include your end users.
- Present a selection of ideas to the client.
- Reserve judgement and maintain neutrality.
- Create and present actual working prototype(s).
- Review the objective.
- Set aside emotion and ownership of ideas.
- Avoid consensus thinking.
- Remember: the most practical solution isn’t always the best.
- Select the powerful ideas.
- Make task descriptions.
- Plan tasks.
- Determine resources.
- Assign tasks.
- Deliver to client.
- Gather feedback from the consumer.
- Determine if the solution met its goals.
- Discuss what could be improved.
- Measure success; collect data.
Although design is always influenced by individual preferences, the design thinking method shares a common set of traits, mainly; Creativity, Ambidextrous thinking, Teamwork, User-Centerdness (Empathy), Curiosity and Optimism.
From Design thinking on Wikipedia