Design Thinking helps many businesses find success through innovation. Think of Airbnb, whose founders used design thinking to transform their business from a startup to a billion-dollar enterprise.

What is Design Thinking?

A structured method of approaching problems

When is Design Thinking used?

Usually in tech-related fields like UX and product management, as well as hands-on fields like architecture, engineering and graphic design (although it is applicable almost anywhere)!

How is Design Thinking engaged?

Through 5 steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test

Brainstorming Strategies Using Design Thinking

Byte Author Uploaded Image We're jumping to Step 3 in the Design Thinking process, assuming that you have already Empathized (by imagining the wants and needs of hypothetical users) and Defined (by creating a clear concept of what you want to produce through this process). Now comes the time to "ideate," or brainstorm.

Brainstorming:

  • Works best in groups with different perspectives

  • Should generate as many ideas as possible

For an effective session, consider handing out stacks of post-it notes. Individuals can write one idea per post-it and add it to a board. This also lets you see the ideas visually and even rearrange them.

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Here are some tips for hosting your session:

  1. Set a time limit -- aim for 15-30 minutes

  2. Start with a clear problem statement -- something that can be clearly answered, such as "How do we make it easier for clients to find information about our company?"

  3. Don't judge -- save all comments for a later stage

  4. Encourage ridiculous answers -- start big and crazy, and scale back from there

  5. Aim for quantity -- don't spend too much time on one thought

  6. Use visuals -- draw it out!

Quiz

The problem statement is "How do we increase revenue?" Which of these ideas should NOT be shared?

Example Brainstorming Session

Watch a team in action as they employ Design Thinking to solve a problem.

Some Other Ideas

Here are a few other creative methods of brainstorming:

  1. Brainwriting - everyone writes down 3 ideas and passes them to the right. The person to the right adds a bullet point or strategy for each idea. Continue passing until each idea has made a full lap around the circle.

  2. Figure Storming - pick a well-known figure (like an actor or a president) and imagine how they would approach the problem.

  3. Round-Robin - share one idea at a time; no one is allowed to comment until each person in the room has shared.

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Try it Out

Gather some friends or colleagues and choose your favorite technique from the options above to approach a problem.

Try assigning each participant a "role" or character. This will help participants to approach the problem from different mindsets.

For example, if your problem involves improving customer services, possible roles are a new customer, an existing customer, an angry client, and a client advocate.

Summary

Brainstorming is one of the most important stages of Design Thinking, as this is where ideas are born. It is most effective in groups where multiple perspectives are offered, and should never exclude an idea, no matter how ridiculous.

This is the time to shake off the shackles and let your creativity fly!

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What project could these strategies help with?

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This Byte has been authored by

MK

Mikaela Krim

Senior Analyst - Corporate Operations