Your Go-To Guide to Design Thinking

Global Ed

At its core, the idea of design thinking is not new, and nor is it an exclusive domain of designers. It’s what some of the greatest innovators have practiced for years – those who know the significance of putting human-cantered experiences and techniques at the heart of what all they do, be it create a product or solve a problem.

Think Apple.

Today Design Thinking is being adopted by some of the world’s leading brands and is also being taught in universities as it’s being recognized as a critical thinking-approach needed to get a better understanding of the people for whom products or services are designed.

And because we think it’s a field worth looking into, here’s what we’ll be covering today:

  • What is Design Thinking
  • How can Design Thinking help your career?
  • Best Places to study Design Thinking
First - what really is Design Thinking?

In the simplest of explanation, Design Thinking is a (human-centric) methodology that uses solution-based approach to problem solving, creatively and innovatively. It is user-centric and its methodology focusses on finding constructive and effective solutions based on the methods and practices that designers use.

Four Principles of Design Thinking

According to Christoph Meinel and Harry Leifer of the Hasso-Plattner-Institute of Design at Stanford University, California, there are four principles of Design Thinking, i.e.

    • The human rule: All design activity is social in nature; any social innovation will bring us back to the “human-centric point of view”.
    • The ambiguity rule: Ambiguity cannot be removed or oversimplified. To see things different, it is needed to experiment at the limits of y/our knowledge and ability.
    • The redesign rule: All design is redesign and basic human needs remain unchanged. Therefore, we redesign the means of fulfilling these needs or reaching desired outcomes.
    • The tangibility rule: Make ideas tangible in the form of prototypes so designers can communicate them more effectively.
The five phases of Design Thinking

Based on these four principles, the Design Thinking process can be further broken down into five steps or phases:

    • Empathise: Gather insights about the user, i.e., know the user, understand their needs, wants and objectives
    • Define: Identify/formulate the problem/s in a user centric manner and start coming up with ideas for solution
    • Ideate: The crucial stage where creativity is used to create potential solutions, from brainstorming to mind-mapping. Come up with new options and alternatives
    • Prototype: Incorporate the (identified) potential solution/s into a product where each solution will be experimented or tested
    • Test: The end of the process where prototype/s are used on real or representative users so that it shows where it will work well and where you need to improve
How Design Thinking can help your career

You would be surprised to know that Design Thinking is applicable in all professional spheres, whether it is in a business, educational, personal or even social context. It extends beyond the ‘design team’, and has become an approach to devise strategy and change. How exactly?

  • It fosters a creative and innovative approach to problems, and encourages the discovery of new pathways and ideas
  • It brings a balanced solution which is a mixture of emotions and intuition with analytics and science
  • It focuses on empathy where humans are put first, i.e., to use the real customers/users to come up with a lasting solution

That leaves us with a bigger focus- how can we use it to help your career?

Here are three ways to help you answer this question

1. Get Curious: Follow your curiosity so that you can discover what you want. Come up with as many ideas as possible and experiment with a variety of options and create your own career choice based on your curiosity.

2. Empathise: As reflected in our discussed Design Thinking methodology, empathising will help you create a meaningful career where you thinking about your needs and motivation and the impact your decision will have on others. When you have this principle etched in you, any career path you build will be a sure way to success.

3. Explore Options: Test your ideas to figure out what you are good at and what you like so that you are motivated to take it further. This means not getting stuck in your comfort zone and even experimenting with your existing roles that could help progress further in your career.

Best Places to Study Design Thinking

Given how Design Thinking is not entirely confined to designers, globally ranked universities across the globe have started offering the course. Here’s our handpicked places to study Design Thinking inclusive of short certificate courses or degree programs-

University Course Mode of Learning & Duration Course fee
Johns Hopkins University Design Leadership
2 years
US$102,030 (full prog.)
(approx. ₹ 74,92,573)
Manchester Metropolitan University Design Innovation
1 year
(approx. ₹ 17,36,925)
The University of Melbourne Bachelor of Design
3 years
AUD$100,992-$140,768 (full prog.)
(approx. ₹ 57,16,060 – ₹ 79,67,347)
Cornell University Design Thinking
(Certificate course)
6 months
(approx. ₹ 2,64,366)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Mastering Design Thinking
(Certificate course)
3 months
(approx. ₹ 2,42,148)
University of Oxford Design Thinking Practitioner
(Certificate course)
8 days
(approx. ₹ 36,322)
University College London Systems Design
(Certificate course)
5 days
(approx. ₹ 1,44,335)
National University of Singapore Design Thinking for Building Innovation
(Certificate course)
3 days
(approx. ₹ 1,77,715)
The Australian National University Design Thinking: Human-Centred Innovation
(Certificate course)
2 months
AU$ 4890
(approx. ₹ 2,76,845)
McGill University Innovating Through Design Thinking
(Certificate course)
4 weeks
(approx. ₹ 1,15,354)

Signing up for a Design Thinking course will give you exposure to managing different types of innovations in organisations, i.e., inclusive of product, service, information systems, and business models. It will also give you an understanding of both strategic and operational issues.

No matter what your field, a course in Design thinking will encourage you to be more innovative in anything you do.

Date added

Filed under:

Global Ed


No spam, just your favourite topics.

Choose Insight topics that you are interested in to subscribe for your personalized newsletter.

A world
of possibilities awaits.
Join the movement.
Find your perfect university,
in one of 40 countries all over the world
Prepare for the future,
whether at university, business or in employment
Secure your future,
through STEM courses
Connect with leading international companies
and unlock the potential of your team
Fill in the form, so we can contact
you and start our journey together.