The process defined by Design Thinking is guided by six phases.

Problem area

The first three phases focus on the problem, forcing us to clearly expose it and redefine it as many times as necessary. It is important to invest some time and effort defining the problem. A frequent error is that we often start from a vague and unconstrained definition of “what happens to us” and focus our energies only on finding the solution.

In these stages (key to the success of the project and, in my opinion, the most difficult ones), we must strive to “want to see” what the real problem is, opening our vision to external elements and not enclosing ourselves in our opinion.

It is important to observe, ask and involve the end user to obtain information about how he interacts with the object of our “problem”. In its origin, this is a divergent phase, we must take into account all the possible variables.

Once the relevant studies have been carried out, we must put ourselves in convergent mode, to discard the variables that do not focus on defining our problem (perhaps they are the cause of another, but not this one) until we can define the problem explicitly and unequivocally.

Solution area

Once the problem is defined, we can focus on finding the solution. We will begin, once again, with a divergent process, that contributes with ideas. There are multiple methods that promote the creation of ideas in a group, although the best known is Brainstorming, it is not the only one.

With all the ideas on the table, we start again a convergent process that allows us to limit the number of possible solutions to test them in an agile and practical way, through model prototypes, role play or whatever best suits the idea we need to test.

Once again it is important to involve the end user, both in the generation of ideas (some final user) and in their test (as many end users as possible to manage) to obtain real feedback from sources not contaminated by the process searching a the solution.

An iterative and participatory process

In any of the phases in which we are working on, we must allow ourselves to review the previous ones. Thus, if after exposing the problem and observing it in a real environment, its definition does not convince us, we will have to redefine it and re-observe it from a different perspective. This iteration must be agile and not consume many resources, or the process will be slow, heavy and therefore inefficient.

It is equally important to establish who are the people who will be part of the working group, both for the point of view they can provide and for the attitude they will develop throughout the process.