5 – reflections on design thinking

This section will enable you to recognise design thinking and its value, as well as to critically reflect on what design thinking means and on the results that it generates.

see page 53 of BDI.

step 1
One way of reflecting on what design thinking means and how it can be of value, is by gathering together examples of it to look at and consider. Think about the objects, media, environments, services and experiences you’ve encountered or read about in design journals and magazines, in school or at your business, or simply in your vicinity.

step 2
Then consider how you might answer the following questions:
– Why is it an example of design thinking?
– Is the design thinking in the process or in the result? (If all of your findings are results-based, look a bit closer for design thinking in processes.)
– Was there a paradox resolved?
– Could you have thought of it?
What processes, skills, resources and specialists do you maybe lack?

step 3
Please feel free to upload your examples below, or post some links to good examples that you have found.

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  1. Synergize & Co

    Reflections on design thinking

    Design thinking as a way of changing between creative and businesslike thinking, and adding the strong point of the two together, is in our opinion a very useful tool to evaluate business ideas and problems. After discussing some cases, we found a beautiful example of how design thinking can help create a product, and how a lack thereof can cause problems. This example is the O.V. Chip card.

    The OV-Chip card (a chip used by all public transport in the Netherlands for ticketing and subscriptions) is an interesting case when discussing design thinking. It can be argued that in coming up with and creating the card a clear combination of a rational, businesslike approach and a very creative approach has been used. However, as most residents in the Netherlands know, some major problems have delayed the introduction of the OV chip card, which are in our opinion caused by at some point focusing more on the one mindset than on the other.

    This entire story starts with an ill-defined problem. Customers are experiencing annoyance with the different ways of paying for different kinds of public transport. A solution is desired but no clear antecedent is known. At some point, the very creative step is made to make the problems of many, the problem of one big group and to come up with a product and service that could fit this whole group. Basically a completely new and innovative business model is created, with accompanying product and service. After this, a very pragmatic step is made in finding a suitable solution that can be applied in different environments. After which, an interesting new way is devised to make checking in and out quicker and less obstructive (i.e. no gates).

    However, some flaws in the process can also be identified. When for example coming up with a new and creative way of checking in and out, the players behind the OV Chip card forgot to complete the iterative process and to switch back to business thinking. This caused the flaw that the final concept does not take into account the problem of forgetting to check out, traveling illegally and the losses that go along with this. Another problem caused in this way is for example that after finishing the product and creating the service around it, the approach was purely businesslike, without looking at it from a creative point of view and finding out of the box problems like international visitors who have a hard time using public transport for they do not know or understand the card.

    Synergize & Co

    Oct 04, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

  2. G3

    As an example of design thinking, we investigated HP. The company decided to design the packaging with the product, instead of after product design is finalized. The premise is to make the products stronger and the packaging therefore smaller. Previously, HP packaging was made to keep the product safe during transport. Now, the packaging is designed next to the product, and they support each other to make it more effective to transport.
    This is an example of design thinking because it combines business thinking (which is about making processes more efficient and making everything cheaper) with creative thinking (the design process).
    The design thinking in this case is in the process. They changed the process to make the R&D department function differently to allow the packaging department function better.
    The big paradox that HP was facing is the packaging size. A smaller package saves money during transport, however this can lead to damaged goods. A bigger package costs more money to transport; however it ensures the product is protected. That is a design paradox.
    At TU Delft we are taught how to approach those sort of paradoxes, the group believe that we could have generated a solution to HP’s particular complex problem. Conversely, we recognize that you would have to have power within HP to change the entire way of thinking within HP. As a result, we believe that an independent design agency would probably not succeed in changing the way an entire company approaches complex problems.
    HP’s strategy could be compared to for instance Apple, who followed a similar strategy with the iPad. In the product development of the iPad, the cover to protect the screen was developed within the product development phase. This is an example of design thinking in the result, since two products were developed to complement each other. The strategy however is very similar to that of HP; developing two parts together to make the summative result better than the individual components.

    Oct 12, 2011 @ 12:00 pm


    // TU Delft International office //
    All new international comers have to deal with several processes involving several organizations in order to settle down in The Netherlands. TU Delft’s International Office involved design thinking to simplify theses processes by integrating them into a single one.

    We have identified the problem as ill-structure because it involves different actors from different sectors. Regarding governmental sector new comers have to register for Delft municipality, and to apply for a resident permit. In the housing sector students need to search an accommodation, deal with contracts and landlords, and pay for services (electricity, gas etc.). Related to the educational sector students have to enroll in courses, pay tuition and selection of a method of payment. Dealing with these situations from abroad makes these processes more complex. Time and money are key factors to this problem considering that this demanded students to come earlier. These caused student to have an overwhelming arrival which resulted in a lot of stress.

    After identifying al the actors and processes involved the problem was formulated as follows: How can we simplify the settling down process for new comers to reduce the amount of stress, and make them have a pleasant arrival?

    The international office involved design thinking in this process by creating a structure including all different actors in the process. The result is the creation of the guarantee payment, which is a single payment provided by the students done in one installment. The International office manages the whole process with the different actors on behalf of the students. These has helped a lot of international students to settle down and enjoy their arrival.

    One of the things this solution lacks is that all important knowledge that could have resulted from this process in now lost cause it’s being done by someone else. This becomes a hazel when students have to move out and therefore deal with this whole process by themselves.

    // Follow me //
    An example of design thinking result based is the “Follow me” printing system. Students dealt with the problem that there were a limited number of printers, moreover maintenance also reduced the availability.

    This lead to the following problem formulation: How can we increase printer’s availability with existing recourses?

    The solution was the creation of a system which enables students to print in any available printer in the faculty using their student id. One of the things this solution lacks the fact that for unknown reasons obtaining a student card takes longer.

    Oct 12, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

  4. - shiqi -

    We consider design thinking as a mindset which is an ideal way to find innovative solutions for a variety of issues, creating more possibilities for the future. During our discussion we came across two examples that use design thinking, helping the companies involved to think from a broader perspective, which usually leads to valuable results that increase profits for both the users and the companies.


    Bank of America worked with IDEO to create a service called “Keep the Change.” With this service, every time when customers pay through their credit card, the bank will automatically change the amount of money into an integral number ($97,50→$100), the bank then returns the change ($2,50) to the customers’ saving account. Customers are pleasantly surprised that they save (a little amount of) money without effort and feel happy. Usually, using credit cards means you spend money. Customers often deal with negative emotions when they have to pay the credit card bill every month; this service tries to change their negative feeling to a positive feeling through this way of “saving money”.

    Most banks use a traditional way to attract customers, through nice advertisements or giving gifts/discounts/lower fees. This new idea however stays closer to user’s needs (a positive feeling when using your credit card), and at the same time the bank still makes money when people are using their credit card. We believe that through design thinking a paradox is solved: giving customers the feeling that they save money while the company itself doesn’t need to spend extra money at crazy discounts or gifts  save money while spending money. We think it is clever and innovative that they bring benefit to two sides (costumers and the bank) and are successful because an entirely different approach for commerce banking is created, thinking empathically with customers instead of economically.


    Many development countries are suffering from contaminated water because of insufficient sanitation measures. This polluted water leads to diseases, which causes many people to die. There is no clear and obvious solution because of the complexity of the problem; a lot of factors play an important role in dealing with this problem like the environment, the government, people’s needs and wishes concerning sanitary behavior and of course cultural influences. To solve this complex and ill-defined problem, the design teams started with observations to analyze the problem and found out that locals use a plastic bag as a toilet, throwing it on the streets after using it. During the design process they got involved in the local people’s situation, considering the limitation of the government and society. In addition, this design should be based on people’s behavior so it will be easily accepted.

    The solution was the Peepoo bag, which is a new self-sanitizing, single-use, biodegradable container for human waste. Within it, a chemical process breaks down the human waste and turns it into a fertilizer, solving two problems at once: better sanitation and increasing soil nutrition  fertilizing crops. We think this has been a very good design thinking process, considering that the designers came across multiple problems which eventually led them to a single product. Multiple paradoxes are resolved since the Peepoo considers people’s normal ways of doing and still manages to improve the sanitation conditions AND the soil nutrition problem AND the waste problem. We think it’s also a good and-and solution because needs and problems from different perspectives are included in the design. Another point is that it is not a real toilet or an infrastructure design, which is what most people would think of improving/designing.

    This process considered every stakeholder (residents, government, the society and the environment), iterates between analysis and synthesis and started the process with a problem which was ill defined. We think this way of thinking is an ideal method to start innovation.

    Oct 17, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  5. Paradox 20

    In our opinion the essence of design thinking is combining design and business into a holistic and innovative approach. Design thinking is not exclusive for designers. It is a way of thinking that can be used also by business people. Design thinking is in our opinion a new way of dealing with problems. The core idea is to reframe the starting point or question and broaden the scope to reach a more holistic solution.

    A good example of design thinking is Spotify. Spotify is an online music streaming service. The music industry faces a large problem with illegal downloading. A lot of profit is lost because of that. Illegal downloading takes place through the internet. Internet is seen as a threat for the music industry by the large record labels. Spotify identified the internet as a major opportunity to spread music. Instead of come up with anti copy protection they use the internet to spread the music. Their business model consists out of offering a free online music service and attracts as many users as possible. They earn money by selling radio commercials, which are played at the free accounts. Another income source is selling premium accounts to users. Spotify has more than 12.000.000 songs in their database and the number is still growing. Spotify pays royalties for the use of their songs. Users don’t have to download their music anymore. They can stream their music online. They record label earns money by spreading music over the internet. Spotify changed the internet from a major threat into a huge opportunity for the music industry. In our opinion Spotify is a good example of effective use of design thinking.

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  6. - shiqi -


    After reading the case of Fatboy we had the feeling that we did not read some really new insights about design thinking. This might be because (for the most of us) we already have learned a lot about design thinking in our bachelor program in IDE in Delft. Therefore we recognized the ways of thinking but we also saw there is still a lot to be learned.

    The way of presenting the results of de design project is very interesting and inspiring. We would really like to have such a workshop to learn about different ways of presenting your end results, rather than squeeze the results into a report.

    Oct 18, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  7. Group 11

    In the last decades, it has become clear that designers have important capabilities. For example, a designer can understand problems and solve them in a creative way. Although each designer has its own qualities, many designers are using the same way of thinking, called ‘Design thinking’. Design thinking can be applied in the process or in the result. Since there is no clear explanation given in the book Brand Driven Innovation, we will do an attempt to distinguish this.

    We think that design thinking in the process has an open ended outcome, which means that the product/service follows from the process. When it’s applied in the result, the final product/service is more or less known at the beginning. In this post, two examples will illustrate how ‘Design thinking’ works in practice, both in the process and in the result.

    An interesting example of how Design thinking is used in the process is the brand Senz, the maker of storm-proof umbrellas. The founders (former IDE-students) solved an existing problem – umbrellas breaking down when windy – by combining different disciplines: technology (aerodynamics), safety, functionality (waterproof material), usability (size, lightweight, foldable) and aesthetics (colours, shape). The concept itself in not difficult to come up with, but required the knowledge of aerodynamics and fabrics, which are unusual skills for industrial design students from the TU Delft.

    The Senz umbrella is an example of the design thinking in the process, since the shape of the umbrella is mainly an outcome of the process: they did various wind tests and calculations to find out what shape could withstand the wind. They did not know what the product would look like in the beginning.

    The concept of a storm-proof umbrella contains a paradox: ordinary umbrellas are cheap, and break down easily. As a result, they have low value and are easily replaced. The Senz umbrella is much more expensive but very durable. Senz has changed the entire business model and the value perception of the umbrella. Also, since the shape of the product is significant different from the normal umbrellas, it has become a kind of status symbol to have a Senz umbrella, since it shows that you appreciate technology and are willing to pay for it. Only one problem seems to remain for Senz, the question ‘what’s next’? Since Senz’s slogan is ‘Enjoy the weather’ it will be difficult to come up with something new and expand the product portfolio. Hopefully, BDI can help Senz to keep innovating.

    As mentioned before, Design thinking can also be used in the result. An example are H&M’s special collections designed by well-known fashion designers. H&M is famous for their cheap and trendy clothes and their global expansion. Since 2004, H&M has launched several ‘designer’s collections’, made by designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Sienna Miller and Versace. The clothes in such a collection are still affordable but they are more pricy than the ordinary collection and the series are smaller, hereby establishing a sense of urgency: “buy it now, tomorrow it is sold out.” The clothes tend to be slightly more delicate than the ordinary collection, which can attract a new target group and strengthen the connection with the current H&M-consumers. Besides, the designer collections get a lot of attention in the media, which gives H&M an extra competitive advantage.

    The collaboration with famous fashion designers is something new for the brand, but also within the cheap clothing industry. Haute couture was always unreachable for the normal people and now – although it’s not truly haute couture – people can get ‘designer clothes’ in the H&M store next door. H&M definitely has the guts and network to approach and convince famous designers to work for them, and a talent how to launch the special collection and sell it next to their ordinary collections. Networking and selling are two skills that designers often lack or do not pay enough attention to.

    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  8. Group 23

    We come up with several examples that we consider as design thinking. We also tried to be critical by give the reasoning behind our thought and further analyze all aspect related.

    The first example is ‘the supermarket management’. We think that how the layout of the supermarket has to do with the design thinking and creative thinking. It is related to the human behavior study, to influence people to buy more. We think that this is an example of a design thinking that emphasize on the process. It is about how to sell in the business sense in combination with how to attract human in related to psychology.

    The second example is Dyson fan. This product succeeded to create a better way to transfer cold air to the room. In this case we think that the design thinking relies on not only the process but also the result. Dyson fan create something that visually inspiring and create a new benchmark on household equipment. It is something that out of the normal current paradigm.

    Another interesting example is Nintendo Wii. Nintendo rethink how an old technology (MEMS accelerometer) could be something that has new meaning for people. The MEMS technology allows the console to sense the speed and orientation of the controller. Nintendo didn’t try to come up with something technologically more advanced, but they reshape the console game industry with revolutionary thinking.

    Design thinking transforms the vision into a value, by adding new context in the existing thing. Design thinking is the bridge between business thinking and creative thinking. Design thinking often can not explicitly seen in many cases, but if one industry done it then that industry might change the rule of the game in the competitive industry environment.

    Oct 20, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  9. Team EFCOM

    After we reflected upon design thinking as a group, we came to the conclusion that design thinking is the bridge between business thinking and creative thinking.

    An example of design thinking which can be found in the result was shown in the Wii case. While the leaders of the game market focused mainly on improving graphics (business thinking) Nintendo stepped back and redefined what a game could be (design thinking). Using existing technologies with a different approach the Wii became an innovative gaming experience.

    IKEA shows how a brand can prolong by using design thinking in their process. IKEA’s products are affordable without looking cheap. This is a result of IKEA rethinking their product cycle. By involving the user in the assembly process, IKEA is able to offer their products at a lower price. In addition, the user is also more emotionally involved because the product is partly created by them.

    The cases we discussed showed us that design thinking allows companies to create a distance between them and their competitors. Design thinking is a newly defined approach to a problem. Instead of looking at a company’s past or what competitors are doing, trough design thinking one can step away from the standards and be open to new opportunities. Design thinking is looking to the essence of a problem instead of symptoms and then solving it from a stakeholders perspective.

    Oct 20, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  10. The TwentyONEs

    Reflections on Design Thinking

    As mentioned in the book, design thinking is kind of ‘structured creativity’. It aims to solve a complex and ill defined problem which relates to many fields. In order to balance these different facets of problems, the iterative analysis and synthesis are used.
    Two examples have been identified, the Internet website I “bribery” and the shoe brand “Warriors”. Both are good examples of design thinking used in different context.

    I bribery, was built in India to help control the bribery in India by bringing it to light. People in India have to give some extra money to the officials related to achieve something, such as applying a marry certificate, a passport and even giving birth to a newborn baby. Two Indians had an idea to start up a website to help people struggling in bribery and decrease this situation. If someone encounters a bribery related situation, he can publish this on this website, such as “I pay someone 100 dollar to apply a driving license”. Or someone can put some complaints about one’s own circumstance, and asks for help. The paradox is obvious and general. That is, there is a bad situation in society and you know that and you want to change it, but apparently, solving this problem is beyond one’s ability. And the guy in the example solves this by constructing a website to let everyone say one’s similar experience. Thus, the situation gets better through these voices.
    Even though this example is not design thinking within one company, it is a good example of the complex situation of bribery being tackled by a creative solution.

    The Brand “Warriors shoes” is old-fashioned and cheap (2 euros) simple, and of good quality. But as the market competition is fierce, the brand disappeared in the Chinese market. Until 2005 the French guy Patrice Bastian, who is called Sneaker Freak, discovered this “near extinct” shoes, by fully redesign its brand image and successful marketing, the shoes sold like hot cakes in Europe. Up to 500 Eur! The shoes were even sold back to Chinese market after the great success in France.
    This is an example of design thinking, however not a very conventional example. It shows that design thinking not only applies to new products but also to the context of the product. Bringing a good product in a good context can lead to success.
    The paradox of this example is that the manufacturer wants to progress in the shoe market with a brand image that is already old-fashioned to the people. And people want something new. In short, they want to create something new with something old. The “Warriors shoes” did not introduce a new product to the people but new people to the product.
    The innovation is not just about the product itself but also the relationship/combination of the product with its environment. This leads to new thinking of new types of innovation to create more value for a brand.

    the TwentyONEs

    Oct 21, 2011 @ 12:07 am

  11. Group 11

    Unfortunately we were not able to upload our pictures. Hereby the link to see an example of the Senz umbrella and an advertisement of the H&M special collection by Karl Lagerfeld.

    Oct 25, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  12. Group 13 - Paper Planes

    This is a selection of three out of the brands we discussed in the group:


    They developed a completely new type of incubator in a very static market that offers a lot of value to all stakeholders involved.
    The design thinking is in the result because it concerns the product itself.
    There were many paradoxes resolved. The required machinery in an incubator is for instance very loud, whereas the baby needs as little sound as possible so it can rest. Another example is that the incubator should be closed to maintain a precise internal climate, but at the same time it is vital for the baby to have interaction with the mother. The new incubator really improves on these aspects and more.
    Yes, it mainly required the skills that we have learned in our IDE bachelor. The inventor also studied IDE in Delft and this was her thesis project. Obviously there are experts needed for the climate control, the electronics and manufacturing the parts, but the inventor also involved partners for this.


    They developed a completely new type of umbrella in a very static market which solved the one big problem umbrellas always had.
    The design thinking is in the result because it concerns the product itself.
    Yes, it solved the biggest paradox in the history of umbrellas. When it is raining there is usually also a lot of wind involved and traditional umbrellas often flip over and become useless against the rain.
    Probably, because the inventors studied IDE in Delft and this also started as a thesis project. The key element to this innovative product is good product design. If we had a wind tunnel at our disposal, like they probably did, we could experiment with different umbrella designs and test their wind resistances.


    They created a place where people not only can drink their coffee, but they can do so in a relaxed atmosphere and while working.
    It is mainly a process innovation because it concerns the experience that customers have (although this is also partly achieved through products (e.g. furniture, outlets, etc).
    Yes, they managed to create a pleasant environment where people can work comfortably, while they still want and get lots of customers and therefore are a very busy place. They also manage to serve (consistently) high quality coffee within one minute, while making good coffee usually takes time.
    Yes, especially since our team consists of SPDers and a DFIer. Although we are not taught extensively how to design or innovate services, we grasp the concept of how to design experiences. We are able to dissect a customer journey into touchpoints and orchestrate them in such a way that they create a holistically valuable experience.

    Oct 25, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  13. 6MINUS1

    One additional comment:

    When reading the chapter, we were a bit skeptical about table 3. It describes the left-hand of the brain (business thinking) and the right-hand of the brain (creative thinking).

    However, we came across a TED talk, in which a psychiatrist described the real difference between the right an the left brain. This description fits table 3 pretty well.

    The video also talks about the history of the overbalance to the left-hand side of the brain and the need to balance more. It seems the video is talking about design thinking.

    The video (link below) starts to get interesting from 2:08.


    Oct 25, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  14. Team Coffee-break

    As we started our search for examples, by using…well..Google, we had this flash of insight – that Google itself was a wonderful example of design thinking !!

    Before Google became popular, all the search engines (Altavista, Yahoo etc.) were advertisement pages with a search bar in the middle. The advertisements were there, of course, to bring income to the companies, but their presence on the main page resulted in poor quality user experience. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with their search engine, Google, they decided to keep the home page light and simple, in order to ensure high quality user experience. The user centered search engine, Google, quickly became a rave, leaving its competitors far behind. Since Google was a venture capital funded entity, it had to generate revenues eventually. In 2000, Google began featuring advertisements on its website. And how google did this, is a classic example of design thinking. The business thinking would be to just place advertisements on the page, where there was maximum traffic (generally the home page), but Google decided to take a different route – it showed the advertisements with the search results, and tried to ensure that they were relevant to the searched key words. This new approach to placing advertisements had two facets – One, the ads were text-based to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. Thus, user experience remained high quality in-spite of the ads. Two, since, ads were matched in relevance to the searched keywords, users often found them useful to their context, and clicked on them (Google sold keywords to advertisers based on a combination of price bid and click-throughs).
    The paradox that google solved using design thinking was – while on hand it ensured high quality user experience, on the other it generated revenues, which until now had been done at the expense of the former.

    Another example of the application of design thinking is the voting machines used in Netherlands. A while ago the Dutch government introduced voting machines, which made the counting of votes much quicker than the counting in old voting system, in which people voted using paper slips. However, critics of the voting machine doubted its reliability. They stated that a machine was more sensitive to mass fraud.
    The authorities looked for a solution that was fast on one hand, and reliable (i.e. not susceptible to frauds) on the other. They were able to solve the paradox by applying design thinking! The new voting machine rolled out a printed slip containing details, every-time a vote was cast; thus making it possible to manually re-count in case of any doubt regarding the authenticity of final figures.

    Team Coffee-break (Group 12)
    ‘get set for fresh perspectives…’

    Oct 25, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  15. Group 02

    Design Example
    Nespressso Coffee

    We think Nespresso is an example of design thinking (as defined by table 3 on page 52 of BDI) because of a number of reasons. As prove we can identify elements of the table in Nespresso and we will list 2 examples here.

    Firstly the ‘zooming in and out on the process'; Nespresso applies core values (e.g. ease of use) to both zoomed in and zoomed out views of the design. On the machine level it shows in the simplicity (e.g. one button coffee making) while on the macro level it shows in the ecosystem (e.g. getting the coffee via internet, eco-friendly recycling of cups).

    Secondly the design process is bound to have intuitive decisions made in order to come up with such novel ideas on the selling of coffee and related services. However, we are also quite certain that the mechanisms used for the vendor lock in and the emotional tie between the brand and the customer are probably the result of very careful marketing strategies which can also be derived from analysis rather than intuitive assumptions.

    Traditionally it was believed that proper espresso could only be made with a certain level of expertise and equipment. Easy ways of making coffee were not associated with the high quality standard and even the romance of genuine espresso. Nespresso however, managed to create a brand, which communicates the romantic, exclusive and qualitative values (all related to emotions) of espresso with the ease of use of more generic types of coffee. We believe that through the use of social sciences they managed to convince the consumer their product is indeed as romantic, qualitative and romantic as traditional espresso. The ease of use can also not be disputed. This paradox could not be tackled through analysis alone, because we believe it would never be able to convince people emotionally. Only creative thinking would – according to us – never have achieved the actual quality and ease of use. Therefore we believe a combination, thus design thinking, was needed to solve this paradox of usability and coffee experience.

    In our opinion this paradox and the process of solving it is quite recognizable. We are convinced that we could come up with a similar design solution for the product itself. However, currently we lack the knowledge and skills to develop such a product ecosystem.

    Oct 26, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  16. Group 15

    Design thinking could both be something abstract (a mindset) or a tangible product, model or service, hence we find design thinking quite ambiguous. Also, the term is not very explicit, because ‘design thinking’ sounds like thinking in creative ways while design thinking is actually about using both creativity and an analytical mindset, as described in the book. As industrial design students, we have been trained in possessing that combined thinking. We are taught to use analytical methods and creativity in every practical case and we tackle the problems we face in projects with design thinking that usually start of with an ill-defined problem.

    An example of design thinking is Google Chrome because it changes the way that people use computers and store files. The design thinking in this example is in the process and the paradox resolved is making the people feel secure about having all of their computer files online. We as industrial designers could maybe have thought of the initial idea, but then it would be hard to proceed because of our lack of knowledge and skills in computer engineering and IT.

    An example of design thinking both in process and the result is the self-checkout system in supermarkets. The initial problem that started the design thinking process might have been the long queues in supermarkets and the complaints of customers who have to stand in long lines just to pay for one or two products, while other customers are standing in the same line with carts full. By using design thinking to solve this problem, a new system was created. This system changes the way people shop and creates a faster shopping experience. The main paradox resolved is how to make the shopping in supermarket faster and more efficient, without inserting more checkout-counters and staff. And the paradox that had to be resolved in the resulted idea was to make an easy interface that could be understood by a broad target group (the large group of customers). In this case, some skills in doing the programming are of course required, but the design of the interface itself could be done by designers that e.g. have knowledge in cognitive ergonomics and graphic design.

    Oct 26, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

  17. leCON7

    Design thinking as a process which people go through and therefore it is difficult to identify if one is not familiar with the process involved. When design thinking is viewed as a combination of analytical and synthetical or business and creative thinking it is more easy to think of examples. For multidisciplinary teams, often design thinking occurs as creative people synthesize according to the analyses made by the analytical thinkers.
    One good example of design thinking in a process can be found at Ulstein AS, a Norwegian shipbuilding firm. A decade ago they were producing many offshore support vessels as the business was booming. During the growth they decided to use the growing market to redevelop themselve s and create a proper competitive advantage. The paradoxical situation they faced was that they wanted a competitive advantage through creating superior ships, yet optimising current ships was something many other shipbuilders were also doing. The solution they found was to do a step back from their current business and to develop a hull from scratch. This hull has been tested, recreated and optimised multiple times, leading to the Ulstein X-bow, a result of design thinking.
    Because of our education as designers, we are being educated as design thinkers. Without us even realizing that we are constantly design thinking(switching between analytical and creative thinking). Because of this unconsciousness of thinking patterns we found it hard at first to recognize design thinking. After recognizing the process and going through the definitions together however, we think that it is possible to play with these thoughts and train yourself in becoming an expert on design thinking.

    Oct 27, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  18. Team Nine

    Reflections on design thinking

    Cooperative Intelligence Blog:
    In this piece the blogger discusses about design thinking and gives examples of how companies such as McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and RIM have used design thinking with success.
    Link: http://cooperativeintelligenceblog.com/2010/11/17/design-thinking-for-strategic-competitive-advantage/

    Points (Experience Point’s blog on learning, simulations, design and more):
    First a problem definition is being made that seems obvious at first sight. After doing creative research it becomes clear that the problem lies elsewhere. After revising the design challenge, brainstorming is done to think of possible solutions. After synthesizing and selecting the final idea, some rapid prototyping occurs. After a week about 100 prototypes were developed and one was chosen.

    Link: http://blog.experiencepoint.com/2010/02/16/design-thinking-in-action-embrace-global/

    Nov 02, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  19. Four

    The bag brand ‘Freitag’ was chosen for this assignment because its unique concept and a combination of several design thinking methods. The brand ‘Freitag’ creates trendy bags produced with recyclable materials like old truck tarps and car harness belts.

    The combination of rough but trendy bags that is totally made from recyclable materials makes the ‘Freitag’ bag a perfect example of design thinking. Several reasons confirm this according to the ‘Brand-Driven Desig’ book.

    First the design of the ‘Freitag’ focuses on the users, the ease of use and the trendy imago of the product. Trough its unique skin (almost every bag is different because it is made from different truck tarps) the customer gets a personal bag, yet he or she becomes part of the ‘Freitag’ identity (hip & trendy). Therefore the bag becomes a real fashion item.

    But not only on a macro level the bag is interesting, also on the level of society it plays an interesting role. Because of the recycled materials of all the parts of the bag, it makes the bag sustainable. This gives ‘Freitag’ not only a hip and trendy image but also an overall ‘green’ identity. Now the bag plays an important role in our ‘more and more moving towards sustainability’ society. This thought of ‘zooming’ into different levels suggests its design thinking methods.

    But the design paradox, which the brand successfully breaks, is of course the hip and trendy image and the materials that the bags are literately made from; garbage. How can garbage be hip en trendy, and above all, very expensive! But the brand successfully breaks this paradox by communicating the sustainable image of the bag and their authenticity that the bags create.

    As designers from the TU delft it is very likely to think in sustainable solutions. Therefore recyclable materials or sustainable materials are no innovation on their own. But a lot of times these materials create a ‘dull’ image of the product. The way this brand communicates sustainability but yet remains hip and trendy is unique, and therefore we think, very successful.

    Nov 08, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

  20. 3plus3

    Design thinking
    ‘Design thinking helps you to be creative while facing constraints, by encouraging paradoxes to be used as inspiration – rather than being seen as an intrinsic limitation.’ (Abbing, 2010). We could not agree more to this definition, but when placed in context there is a contradiction. This stems from the fact that the line between design thinking and business thinking is rather ambiguous. For example, most of us would agree that the act of creation, such as a simple cup or a bottle cap, involves tremendous design skills, methods and knowledge behind the scene. At the same time, the definition fulfills the explanation that design thinking, as a standalone, helps to turn vision into value.

    Perhaps, the question would then be in terms of value and amount. In other words, the how much thinking is required in a creatively fashion or how to enhance a value that has lost its gloss and becoming ordinary? Taking from this perspective, we can say that design thinking is a process – as in the term where thinking is a verb. The richness of design thinking could only be seen in the result, especially when in contrast to other similar product. For example, it is radical to one when considering basic products such as ALESSI’s kitchenware, Pulse’s news app and ironing board from recycled material. These products follow a typical design process of consumer research that take into economics by market testing.

    Design-thinking as a process and its paradox
    Since design thinking in a combination of business and creative thinking, their oppose philosophy might have resulted paradoxes as seen in most products. Such paradox explains why we need design thinking to resolve this so-called wicked problem. For the ironing board, the innovation was for it to be environmentally sustainable but on the other hand, it proves to be too costly. One suggestion was to use recycled product. In the iterative process, a new paradox arises as recycled product might not been seen in a positive manner when it is perceived as a poorer quality. Therefore, managing this paradox should be the objective of design thinking. While for a premium brand as Alessi, when cost effective is not as limiting since the margin is often higher, the paradox lies mostly in the meaning; in this case, a kitchenware which is playful like a toy for adults. The paradox was resolved by understanding the brand vision as one that pursues the wants and not needs, experience rather than function. In reality, paradox exists in any design problems because they are many stakeholders, so there is not just a singular thinking in either business or creative.

    Designers’ capabilities and limitations
    As a designer, we think we are capable to think and resolve problems such as those mentioned above since design thinking is seen in the process rather than a result. With various aspects of design to be taken into account, it is not impossible to know every specific solution. Brand knowledge in design thinking can be important as a starting point, since a brand is highly unique and specific but is lacking in designers. Only by understanding brand, a product can be of value and for the brand to clearly communicate and promise this value.

    Nov 09, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

  21. http://yahoo.com

    “brand driven innovation » 5 – reflections on design thinking” seriously enables
    me think a little bit further. I actually admired every particular piece of this blog post.

    Thanks for the post -Chara

    Feb 09, 2013 @ 4:49 pm


1 × = five

about this blog
this is Erik Roscam Abbing's blog on topics relating to the synergy between branding, innovation and design. Erik is a consultant (www.zilverinnovation.com), teacher (www.io.tudelft.nl), and frequent speaker on the topic of Brand Driven Innovation. He is also the author of the book by the same title, to appear in autumn 2010 at www.avabooks.ch. For inquiries, contact erik at erik at zilverinnovation.com
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