For the longest time, I thought design thinking was a way of life. I thought that the same elements that I apply to Design are the same ones that I apply to Life. Turns out design thinking is simply a process. According to Wikipedia, Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed by designers and/or design teams.
The process is simple: Emphasize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. But I thought there would be more than that. After all, that process is very similar to the Scientific approach of Observation, Research, Hypothesis, Test, Record Data, Conclusion, and Replication. And furthermore, very similar to just thinking in general. I mean if I have a challenge in life that I need to solve, I emphasize it and define it, then I Ideate as many solutions to it, prototype it or test it, and then apply it. I still don’t understand what makes it specifically DESIGN thinking. Maybe it’s not as complicated as I thought. Maybe if you apply that same process to cooking, you can call it Cooking Thinking. Or maybe Cooking can also be Design. In that case, I feel like anything can be Design. I digress.
Whenever I use the term Design thinking, I look at it in a more visual way and comprehensive way. In Design, there are many principles that make or break the whole concept. These elements of Design are Emphasis, Contrast, Balance, Repetition, Proportion, Movement or Flow, and White space. For me, these can be applied to life as follows: Emphasis (Setting goals), Contrast/Balance (Taking breaks), Repetition (Practice/ Regiment, but also finding Patterns), Proportion (Hierarchy/ Prioritization), Movement/Flow (Motivation/ Drive), White Space (Meditation).
In conclusion, as a process of approaching Design, the steps of “Design Thinking” make perfect sense. Though, I feel like calling it Design Thinking is maybe elitist in a way. It’s like saying only Designers think that way. I believe everyone should think that way. I believe that we need to be more inquisitive at all times. We need to question authority, common sense, and tradition. We need to push beyond standard ways of doing things and thinking about things. We need to step out of our comfort zones. Only then can we actually generate new ideas, and truly empathize with others.