Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use (collaborate) to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown. Design thinking is an internationally recognised method for solving problems. There are numerous models of problem-solving in use with many being variations of the internationally recognised IDEO and Stanford design thinking processes. 

Future Proof Your Career

Twenty-first-century organizations from a wide range of industries find design thinking a valuable means to problem-solve for the users of their products and services. Design teams use design thinking to tackle ill-defined / unknown problems (aka wicked problems) because they can reframe these in human-centric ways and focus on what’s most important for users.

Of all design processes, design thinking is almost certainly the best for “thinking outside the box”. With it, teams can do better UX research, prototyping and usability testing to uncover new ways to meet users’ needs. Design thinking’s value as a world-improving, driving force in business (global heavyweights such as Google, Apple and Airbnb have wielded it to notable effect) matches its status as a popular subject at leading international universities. With design thinking, teams have the freedom to generate ground-breaking solutions.

What is a wicked problem?

A wicked problem is a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve for as many as four reasons: incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large economic burden, and the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems.The purpose is to redesign and solve the wicked problem they have selected or identified.

The 5 Step Process

Students are divided into multi disciplinary teams and as a team they are encouraged to collaborate, engage and share ideas in order to expand their creative thinking ability and develop a possible innovative solution to what is termed a wicked problem. The workshop is based on the 5 steps of the Stanford University problem-solving model (Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test).

Study Units

Unit ADD101 (Design Thinking) introduces and unit ADD104 (Design Laboratory) expands on the student’s ability to rapidly emerge themselves into a growing and critical area of design practice. Design’s ability to act as an agent of change. This is recognised globally. Design development processes and methods (design thinking) are increasingly being used to resolve issues in both the private and public sectors. These two units investigate ‘design thinking’ as a problem-solving methodology.

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