Design Thinking: A Short Primer

These days, very few things have me as excited as Design Thinking. It is a model to identify problems with a focus on a human centered approach (called human centered design).

While the concept has been applied to business, it is also used in education and healthcare, among other industries.

By definition, design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

It revolves around several steps: Empathy -> Define -> Ideate -> Prototype -> Test

As mentioned in a webinar below, we could add “accept” to the begin – a step to accept that you have a problem.

D.thinking can also be broken down into:

  1. Experimentation
  2. Deep Understanding
  3. Creative Reframing

From a business standpoint, you can find it broken down by:

  1. Desirability
  2. Viability
  3. Feasability

It is also seen as a culture of mindsets:

  1. Re-framing
  2. Curiosity
  3. Radical Collaboration
  4. Mindful of Process
  5. Bias for Action

Another interesting framework coming out of d.thinking is the double diamond design. This includes:

Discover -> Define -> Develop -> Deliver

Over the next several posts, sporadic or otherwise, most of the topics will including DT and how it can be used in healthcare.

The references below are the ones I came across so far and is not an exhaustive list. I’ll continue to update it as I find more.

Useful References:

(Last updated February 2020)


The Right Way to Lead D.Thinking by Christian Bason & Robert Austin / Mar-Apr 2019 Harvard Business Review (HBR)

Non-disruptive Creation: Rethinking Innovation and Growth by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne / Spring 2019 MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT-SMR)

Design for Action by Tim Brown and Roger Martin / Sep 2015 HBR

Design Thinking Comes of Age by Jon Kolko / Sep 2015 HBR

Why Design Thinking Works by Jeanne Liedtka / Sep-Oct 2018 HBR

How Indra Nooyi Turned Design Thinking into Strategy by Adi Ignatius / Sep 2015 HBR

How Samsung Became a Design Powerhouse by Youngjin Yoo and Kyungmook Kim / Sep 2015 HBR

The Elements of Good Judgment by Sir Andrew Likierman / Jan-Feb 2020 HBR

Biggest Threat to Health? Solving the Wrong Problems / HuffPost 2017


The D.Thinking Hybrid: An Evolution of Innovation / Stanford Center for Professional Development / Bill Burnet

Designers – Think Big / Tim Brown – TedGlobal2009

Tales of Creativity and Play / Tim Brown – 2008

Human-centered Design / David Kelley – Ted2002

How to build your creative confidence / David Kelley Ted2012

Design is in the details / Paul Bennett TedGlobal 2005

Transforming healthcare for children and families / Doug Dietz TEDx2012


101 Design Methods by Vijay Kumar

Ten Types of Innovation by Larry Keeley

Design Thinking at Work: How Innovative Organizations are Embracing Design by David Dunne

The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design by IDEO

Change By Design by Tim Brown

Click to access Double%20Diamond%20Model%202019.pdf

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

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