Design Thinkers on Design Thinking

Design Thinking. It’s not just a hype word.

It’s a deep belief that users need to be at the center of the design process. When you’re stuck on a project or need a fresh idea, we offer quotes from some of our favorite design thinkers for a reset – or perhaps a hit of inspiration.

Some of these quotes help us to understand what design thinking is, others help us to understand why we use design thinking. Some help us see the potential that design thinking has, and still others help us to understand its transformative power.

So, check out our quotes and share your favorites, we’d love to hear from you.

What Design Thinking is.  

Design thinking can mean a variety of things. To some it’s an ideology that guides the process. To others it’s an attitude that guides their company. Regardless of how you implement your design thinking strategy, you know at the heart of it, are the people that you are designing the product or service for.

So, when you’re wondering, just how do you define Design Thinking, here are a couple of quotes to help you out.

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Steve Jobs 

“ Design thinking is a different way of problem-solving that brings in the human factor, aiming to empathize with users to understand their needs, involve them in the problem-solving process, ingeniously build on their feedback and verify relevant solutions with them.”

Brian Matt, Founder and Chairman of Altitude

“Much like Lean (aka. agile) development, Design Thinking is customer-centered, research intensive, and very much in favor of early prototyping, followed by a refining process.”

 Rajat Harlalka,

“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
 Tim Brown CEO, IDEO

Why Design Thinking is Important

Putting people (the users) first is just one of the many benefits of Design Thinking. Another key piece is that using the design thinking can help you see new opportunities for both your company and your client base.

“Good and bad design affects us all. Everything around us is designed but not everything is designed well. In every design you must keep in mind your users, people who are getting in touch with the product, service, process, city, and so on. Design can be a powerful way to influence human interaction and behaviors.”

Anneleen Vanhodt, Design Thinking Lead

“Design-thinking firms stand apart in their willingness to engage in the task of continuously redesigning their business…to create advances in both innovation and efficiency—the combination that produces the most powerful competitive edge.”
Roger Martin, author of the Design of Business

 Why Design Thinking is Here to Stay

 The design processes of the past are not going to build tomorrow’s technologies or innovations. Design thinking provides individuals from any background, with the tool kit necessary to design for the future.

“Design thinking is always linked to an improved future. Unlike critical thinking, which is a process of analysis and is associated with the ‘breaking down’ of ideas, design thinking is a creative process based around the ‘building up’ of ideas.”

Herbert A. Simon, American Psychologist

“Design is the action of bringing something new and desired into existence—a proactive stance that resolves or dissolves problematic situations by design. It is a compound of routine, adaptive and design expertise brought to bear on complex dynamic situations.”
Harold Nelson, The Design Way

 “Designers need to put on a ‘futurist hat’. Whenever a new product is designed we can’t look at today only. We have to be future-forward and look at what’s coming around the corner. So we can upgrade and improve down the road.”

Tamara McCleary, CEO of Thulium

The Skill Needed to Succeed in Design Thinking  

What is the key to being successful at Design Thinking? Having the skills necessary, both soft and hard, to ensure that you can help companies move their ideas forward.

“There is one main rule in design thinking: less talking more doing. Too often people waste a lot of time talking about an idea instead of just trying it out and actually doing something! Design thinking goes against the culture of big, long, static meetings, it is a very actionable process in which we team up with a few experts and start DOING!”

Analeen Vanhodt, Design Thinking Lead

“Gaining empathy hinges on good observation skills and understanding not just fundamental use and usability needs, but also the customer’s meaning-based needs.”

Sara Beckman, Design and Innovation Expert

“Having skillsets on the innovation/IoT/AI team that can see more broadly to help integrate the hardware and software and culture management pieces is important. And the #1 characteristic needed is “emotional IQ” or the ability to be empathetic.”

Ann Marie Dumais, VP of Strategic Programs, First Advantage

“You need to be open-minded and multi-disciplinary. Ideally, you need to be a T-shaped person, someone that spans disciplines and has a depth of knowledge across disciplines. Someone that spans across several branches such as design, business, technology.”

Mike Pinder, Senior Innovation Consultant

 “For true effectiveness, development members must prepare to have patience for true understanding while allowing their imaginations to flow in order to grasp the customer’s intentions. The process is not linear; rather, it’s totally iterative, allowing for refinements along the way.”

Scott Stiner, CEO & President of UM Technologies

 Design thinking is much more than just a trend, or even a way of thinking. It’s a perspective that helps propel our companies forward and truly impact the lives of our clients and their users.

If you’re curious about our process and how design thinking works, check out our paper “What Is Design Thinking?”.

Gretchen Hoffman

Posted By: 

Gretchen Hoffman

VP Marketing