Design thinking is an iterative process highly common among successful businesses. Its universality makes it applicable in any domain, and the requirement of innovation brings out creative solutions to complex problems. Read on to have a brief idea of how design thinking and entrepreneurship associate with one another. Discover the processes, tools, applications and suitable examples below.  

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a user-centric approach based on human cognitive ability. It uses problem-solving ability to overcome the challenges faced by businesses. It requires a change in perspective to identify customers' needs, find methods to solve them and prepare an approach to execute the methods, consequently launching a product or service. 

Design thinking and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Entrepreneurial design thinking allows you to follow various thinking styles and probe open-ended options in order to strike actionable solutions and create a mark in the competitive marketplace. 

What are its Phases/Stages?

There are five phases or stages to understanding the customer's requirements through design thinking. They are as follows:

Phase 1: Empathize

Observation, curiosity and willingness to be aware and address the problem are key approaches to empathizing with or understanding other's problems. Change the perspective to their point of view to know their needs and the root cause of problems faced, and it will be possible to devise the best possible solution. Looking into minute details and constantly asking why will provide help to empathize with the users needing the service. 

Phase 2: Define the Problem

The gathered information in phase 1 is insufficient to proceed. The clarity in understanding a proper question is required. Organize the known information, and analyze it closely to find the high-priority problem. One problem can be handled at a time with high efficiency. Focus on the most significant problem that needs to be addressed for the people by the startup or business. 

Phase 3: Ideate

Now, you have a problem statement in hand. The next step is to find a solution. The idea might come spontaneously or after research. Note down each idea to track and filter it according to feasibility. Not all ideas are practical. However, they generate other workable ideas. The step proves an individual's creativity and ability to think outside the box. 

Phase 4: Prototype

Ideas need to be expressed. Developing a digital or physical prototype is the best method to state your thoughts. Not only it brings clarity to the thinker, but it also helps others pinpoint the impractical parts or optimization points. Converting ideas into reality might take some time. Constant evolution from a rough image to a high-quality image or model will enhance the solution's features. 

Phase 5: Test

It is an iterative process that requires checking the efficiency of the idea. It will let the thinker and team members understand the limitations and potential hidden in the product. The failures in this step do not mean that idea is useless; rather, they provide an opportunity to optimize the product according to needs and bring forward the possibility of being the final one. The problems faced here may be solved in any of the above phases. 

Design Thinking Tools

These tools ease the ideation process through different methods, such as questions, maps, software, and kits, as discussed below:

  • Innovation Flowchart

Displaying the idea on a flowchart requires step-wise detail of the procedure. It also arranges the steps in chronology to prioritize them. The overview through flowchart can help others decipher the thoughts of thinkers. 

  • Design Thinking Tool Kit

Based on the domain of problems, such as education, construction or others, the specific design thinking tool kits can help by providing the procedures to execute the ideas.

  • Question Ladder

It refers to a table with questions and possibilities, methods or resources. Question Ladder is based on the concept that one needs to focus on correct questions over ignorable ones. Finding and working on the answer to unrequired questions decreases efficiency and wastes the organization's resources. 

  • Design Thinking Mix Tapes

Available from Standford's Design School, it helps to empathize, ideate and test the thinker's probable solutions. It offers three mixtapes to guide the user. 

Why is Design Thinking Important?

Design thinking is important to bring out clarity in knowing the aim. While thinking of a problem to find a solution, people may come across numerous problems. However, prioritizing them, gathering the information, and thinking of an innovative idea gives a path and strategy to work on. It increases efficiency and strips the waste of time, money and resources. 

How Can Entrepreneurs Use Design Thinking?

Design thinking and entrepreneurship are interlinked. The former boosts the latter by incorporating risk-taking, collaboration, creativity and problem-solving skills. Entrepreneurs need to utilize the processes of design thinking when they need a creative solution to a problem to develop new opportunities and combat challenges. The design thinking process broadens the thinking capacity of entrepreneurs by helping them try new things, take risks and learn from their actions. It changes the perspective of looking at problems and finding their solutions. 

How Can Design Thinking Help Foster an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

The design thinking process in entrepreneurship is a great approach to inculcating a business mindset by setting wicked problems that require proper definition, which is unique and needs innovative solutions. Further, working on the steps of the design thinking process brings out the divergent thinking mindset and helps in understanding the process of entrepreneurship. However, a learning environment well equipped with technologies is essential for better clarity. 

Why Do Entrepreneurs Need Design Thinking?

Entrepreneurial design thinking is needed to plan the strategy for problems with numerous related root causes. Their eradication needs time, commitment and collaboration. Design thinking allows entrepreneurs to think out of the box and bring ideas to reality through the five phases. It lets out an individual's curiosity by pushing boundaries and achieving the unachievable. Thus, design thinking and entrepreneurship form a strong connection in the modern fast-paced world.

What Industries and Roles Can Benefit from Design Thinking? 

Design thinking process in entrepreneurship focuses on the mindset towards a problem. The five phases of this process can be applied depending on any industry or role. It can be incorporated anywhere that requires a user-centered solution and approach to solve their problem. Industries and roles interested in innovation and bringing out quality products and services for their customers can use design thinking. 

Examples of Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship 

Netflix and Airbnb are a few examples of entrepreneurial design thinking. The business persons understood the problems and brought people-centered solutions to ease their life, making the company grow successfully. Netflix helped save time by streaming movies online, eliminating the need to go out. Airbnb brought forward the idea of giving customers what they need. They focussed on their content and the problem of why their services were not being utilized. They expressed the data that customers specifically looked for. 

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Future of Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship 

Design thinking is a universal method that can help any society-related problem. It helps bring an idea to reality, keeping the risks and possibilities in consideration. It can handle the stress of the development and evolution of markets and problems.

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