Design Thinking

Design Thinking

When you combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of solutions, and rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to the problem context you get Design Thinking. Simply put, the recipe of Design Thinking consists of three ingredients: empathy, creativity and rationality.


A different way

This definition is nothing new but the approach to Design Thinking is no longer exclusive to the traditional field of design. It is acknowledged more and more as a useful and versatile instrument within a variety of organizations and used to create new business models or new company strategies. Or even to address societal issues like congestion, sustainability or even the financial crisis.

At Spark we know that our way of working has always been ‘different’ and we have raised a few eyebrows in other professions, like management consulting. To many people it may feel strange to spend a day with a user, to build cardboard models or to brainstorm using Lego bricks. But we know that in many organizations empathy and creativity are poorly represented. We believe this shortage weakens companies and makes them more vulnerable to the consequences of change in the outside world.

"The methodology commonly referred to as design thinking is a proven and repeatable problem-solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve extraordinary results."

An open attitude towards defining the problem and possible solutions makes an organization more adaptive. Creativity and freedom to choose the right methods and instruments for the job make it more effective. Sometimes a few lego bricks and a piece of cardboard can make all the difference.

More on design thinking in Harvard Business Review or on Wikipedia.

Design Thinking in Urban Planning

A beautiful example of “Design Thinking” is the urban planning of The McCormick Tribune Campus Center designed by Rem Koolhaas. 

Koolhaas conducted a study for mapping the routes that students took across campus, which he referred to as “desire lines.” Instead of forcing them to use pre-defined and paved paths, he let the students freely cross the spaces between the University buildings. After a while the “desire lines” became visible, showing the most preferred and often most efficient routes between the buildings. These intersecting diagonal paths are used to create the eventual network of interior streets, plazas, and urban islands.