linkedin tracking
icon-sprite Created with Sketch.
Skip to main content
What is Design Thinking? August 4, 2016

What is Design Thinking?

reading time
Photo of Press Room

From the Press Room

Share this article

Design thinking is no longer simply a product development approach.


A human-centered, prototype-driven process for innovation that can be applied to product, service, and business design. Stanford University

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. - Tim Brown, President and CEO, IDEO

Core Tenets

Utilizing creativity and design principles at the business level to influence strategy and innovation by taking an abstract idea and creating something with it requires structure and discipline to drive results.

  1. Empathize with your customer and find the path to incorporate emotion into your solution. Intimacy and connection to the customer comes from a sound understanding of needs and motivations. Ensure your approach is grounded in customer centricity.
  2. Create a design framework that allow you to fail fast. Define your methods of customer research, definition, ideation, prototyping/experimentation, testing and critical thinking to facilitate the needed idea generation, collaboration and problem-solving.
  3. Problem-solve through experimentation. Create experiences - be that low fidelity sketches or models or high fidelity HTML prototypes - that enable you to quickly and aesthetically collaborate and know whether your approach meets the needs of the customer. Iterate and improve your solution to the point of exhaustion before considering next steps.
  4. Utilize patterns, methods and constructs that inspire the team creatively. Ideation and collaboration across a multi-disciplinary team that is broader than just designers necessitates the identification of new ways to serve and support team communication and collaboration to uncover customer needs, desires and behaviors.

Inspirational Quotes

Fail often so you can succeed sooner.
– Tom Kelley, Author and General Manager, IDEO

Human-centered design is a philosophy, not a precise set of methods, but one that assumes that innovation should start by getting close to users and observing their activities.
– Donald A. Norman, Co-Founder, Nielsen Norman Group


  • Define and employ designer tools and skill sets that work for your team and needs. Be bold and creative in selecting the constructs and approaches used in your design thinking methodology.
  • Insights and data alone will not transform anything. Converting findings into actionable ideas demands sustained innovation practices and eventually implementation and build competencies.
  • Developing elegant solutions that create value for your customers is fun. Speed should not trump the journey and process. Stay centered on your customers needs, desires and motivations and you will remain on the right track.


Keep up with us

We deliver monthly insights, featuring invites to our virtual events and our latest thinking in innovation, design, and technology.

Contact us

Talk with our experts today

Tell us how you need help. We’ll be in touch.

Thank you! Your message has been sent!

We’ll be in touch.

Want to know more about Cantina? Check out our latest insights or join us at one of our upcoming events.