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The Design Thinking Process:  A Strategy for Innovation


Innovation is what the modern world is about. The current advancements that you experience are products of people’s innovations. But have you ever wondered if innovation has a formula? Just like how solving math problems work, creating innovations also make use of formulas. You better scroll down to know the great formula that we use with all our clients for crafting innovative applications.

“Research is the gathering of facts. In the absence of facts, you have assumptions. And assumptions are the enemy of design.” – Mike Monteiro

Developed by IDEO, this method is comprised of 5 distinct phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Before you go through these phases, you need to start with a design challenge first. Then, you do the following 5 phases.

1st Phase: Build Empathy

Generally, empathy is the deeper sense of sympathy. This is when you are able to put yourself in other person’s shoes and see someone else’s situation with your own perspective. In the world of business and marketing, there are three ways for you to rebuild your empathy.


During meetings, you’re able to investigate each of your team members’ views and opinions about a certain topic or issue. Moreover, interviews are not limited to your own company. You may also conduct interviews with people from different parts of the world. After all, you need to be open-minded enough in listening to different points of views.

Things to Consider Before Conducting Interviews

Build a strong rapport with your interviewees.
Tell or seek stories to let interviewees provide further views.
Apply the wait-time principle!
Choose the right and best people to be interviewed.
Make use of the extreme users.



The ability to observe is also essential in this process. When conducting observations, you may assign some tasks for your people to do. While they are busy doing their tasks, observing them may help you find some important points for them to improve.


Since empathy entails experiencing what the other person experiences, trying things with yourself can be a lot helpful. You may do this by using the products or services that your customers use. Or, you may also want to try your competitors’ own products for you to feel what customers may think about their products.

#Empathy Tool

As you go through empathy phase, utilizing empathy tools such as empathy maps is a great help in obtaining information of what people say and do (explicit), and think and feel (implicit).  Through this, you will be able to clearly see people’s insights in general.

2nd Phase: Define

Defining or redefining the problem should be the next step after you have successfully built empathy. This phase comes with a formula that can help you: PoV = persona + need + insights.

Needs refer to emotions and depth while insights refer to interview findings, contradictions, observations, or surprises. These components will help you identify the real needs that your customers consciously or unconsciously desire. Apparently, this will be your greatest advantage.

3rd Phase: Ideate

Now that you have built a good rapport with empathy and have redefined your problems, needs, and challenges, brainstorming should be the next step.

This phase is categorized into two parts:

1. Creating Choices (Diverge)

Here, you and your team should gather together to conduct a brainstorming session. To successfully solicit a considerable amount of ideas, everybody should be open-minded in considering each other’s views. As a matter of fact, everybody can come up with over 100 ideas for just an hour. You just need to encourage each other so your minds will be more motivated in generating ideas. When you conduct the brainstorming, consider the following tips:

  • Don’t judge.
  • Prioritize quantity.
  • Focus on one conversation at a time.
  • Build another idea on top of the other.
  • Don’t go out of the topic.
  • Consider crazy ideas.
2. Making Choices (Converge)

After soliciting various and unique ideas from your team, it’s for you to sort them out and pick the top ideas. You may do this by asking all the team members to vote for ideas that they are willing to work on. This way, everybody will be able to agree on choosing the top ideas only.  

4th Phase: Create a Prototype

IDEO once stated, “A prototype is worth a thousand meetings. Prototyping will give you a chance to work on the aspects that need improvement. This will serve as the basis of your learning, problem-solving, and of your management. There are three stages that you need to undergo in this phase.

1. Inspiring – This answers the question “What could it be?”.
2. Evolving – This answers the question “What should it be?”.
3. Validating – This answers the question “What will it be?”.


5th Phase: Test

For you to validate the quality of your prototype, testing people using it is a must. By doing this, you will be able to see its performance and effectivity. If you think your modifications are easy, test people with the modified version of your prototype. Do this until you’ll achieve the most effective form. Do not be too crazy about your own ideas that you don’t want to do some modifications anymore. Always consider the opinions of your prototype’s users.  


The goal of The Design Thinking Process is for people to come up with a certain output that is truly desired by people as well. This is the kind of output that can be useful, viable, and convenient enough. Starting from your design challenge, you then undergo empathy phase where you connect, observe, and experience, and then you proceed to the defining phase where you redefine and clarify your challenges and problems, to the ideation where you create and makechoices with your team, to building your own prototypes where you can see your initial output, and then lastly, to the testing phase where you let people use your model.

Going through the whole process guarantees you an organized, beneficial, and effective output. This is definitely the kind of process that is most suitable for modern businesses. So, have you thought about your design challenge yet? Go and gather with your team and start moving now!

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