Design thinking is a solution-based approach to problem-solving. It is a process that draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systematic reasoning, to solve complex problems by exploring possibilities of what could be and create desired outcomes that benefit the end-user (customer). Solonia Teodros, co-founder of The Change School*, breaks down the science of design thinking and how any professional can benefit from it.
The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.
August 6, 2018
Share this post
Design thinking can be leveraged as a business practice when shifting focus towards what people need, to observe them in their natural environment, to understand their lives, develop empathy, and uncover latent needs.
"A lot of times people don't know what they want until you show it to them"
— STEVE JOBS
Design thinking as a practice
A mindful practice of designing, developing and delivering products or services by:
Focusing on the customer - Understand their behaviour (what, when, where, why, how)
Establishing clear objectives - Aligned to customer needs (not just business goals)
Tapping into creativity - Encouraging collaboration and dialogue in the design and development phase
Rapid development and iteration - Embracing failure as an option
Listening to customer feedback - Refining solutions to best meet the needs of your customers
Design thinking as a method
Human-centered design involves a different starting point in the creation process. When evaluating new ideas, instead of asking "Can it be done?" or "Will it make money?", a design thinking approach forces you to first address what people need. It's about observing people in their environments to understand their lives, develop empathy, and uncover latent needs (anthropology). Good methods include co-design sessions, user research, interviews, and more.
Design thinking as a mindset
This brooches the topic of how to look at challenges around us. It is important to look at the world with a fresh sense of curiosity. Be a keen observer and pay close attention to the finer details. Frequently question why things are the way they are, or why people behave the way they do. Never accept a way of life purely through comfort and familiarity. A strong sense of empathy is also key in understanding the people you are designing for and seeing the world from their perspective. Challenging your assumptions about the status quo to explore: "How can this be done better?"
A good example of adopting this mindset is through this exercise. When tasked to draw an image of gifts, most people would draw box shaped presents. However, in reality people rarely ever give and receive gifts which conform to a box. Similarly, it's more relevant to try drawing a gift which you have actually received. Through this same thinking, there is a need to integrate design thinking into thought processes and business plans to ensure they are relevant and rightfully serve a need.
Solonia shares some valuable tools to enable design thinking. Visualisation or visual thinking pushes us beyond words to think nonverbally. Mind mapping is used to connect ideas, categorise them, and look for patterns and insights for key design criteria. Journey mapping traces the customer's "journey" when receiving a service, focusing on emotional highs and lows. Value chain analysis understands how an organization interacts with value chain partners to produce, market and distribute new offerings. Rapid prototyping allows us to make abstract new ideas tangible to potential partners and customers.
It is important to note that what we call a "problem" is often more a symptom of an underlying cause. When we dive in too quickly to fix a symptom, the effect will eventually come back or happen again. Instead, we need to address the root cause to create innovative solutions and design for change.
— SOLONIA TEODROS
*The Change School is an institution for embracing and navigating through change. They have enabled 1,000 plus people using products and tools, transformational experiences and online courses.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Share this post
Must-read articles from Antler
Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia
As everyone anticipates the next wave of ultra-successful companies in Benelux, what does it take to get there? What do the successful founders of Benelux unicorns look like? This report is an in-depth look at the Benelux startup ecosystem and its brightest stars. And above all, it is for anyone who is helping build the next 50 unicorns in Benelux.
The Angle is a new content series from Antler, featuring perspectives from our team members on the biggest events and trends impacting founders and early-stage investors today. Every article is that person's unique angle on a hot topic—what they see from their vantage point in one of our 25 offices around the globe—not Antler's stance. In our first edition, Jeff Becker draws lessons from the demise of FTX and turbulent tech moments in recent years. This article first appeared in Jeff's Monday Morning Meeting on Substack.
Our new content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering wtih around the world. In our second spotlight, we sat down with Jamie Bubb, co-founder of Twirl, a remote content studio powered by top-quality creators that helps brands scale their content engines rapidly and cost-effectively.
We are living two simultaneous realities: the uncertainty of the current downturn and the unstoppable wave of innovation disrupting every industry. Against this backdrop, Antler's Kevin Brennan shares perspectives on assessing your position in venture capital for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. Might 2023 be the best vintage for the coming decade?
Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. To honor them, we are launching a new content series—”It All Starts with People”—spotlighting the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they are building and the positive dent they are aiming to make on the world.
In our first spotlight, we sat down with Emilia Theye, the co-founder of clare&me—a mental health app that uses language-based AI to develop an innovative approach to virtual self-help.
Founders are the life force of the startup ecosystem. They give their all, betting on their seemingly “crazy” convictions and executing on abstract ideas that can potentially make our lives and work easier, faster, healthier, and better optimized.
But sometimes they do this to the detriment of their health. Being a founder means being beholden to customers, employees, and investors while balancing personal life. Often founders trade their stable, well-paying jobs to prioritize the restless inquisitivity of their mind. In the quest to answer the question “what if?”, they sometimes sacrifice their mental and physical health, only realizing the effects on their state of mind once they have impacted their ability to function as a leader. We have also seen how the mental pressure on founders can cause distress to those who depend on them for their livelihood and direction.