Driving Force Behind Design Thinking

Have you ever wondered about the history of Design Thinking? To understand design thinking, we must research from where its roots emerged. Design thinking’s history is short and incomplete. Incomplete in the sense that it is still in the development process. Engineers, scientists, analysts, and designers have been focused on design thinking processes to address human nature and understand the needs of technological and economic progress.

The thought process behind design thinking began in the profession/field of design and was used by designers mostly. When the focus of researchers shifted towards this practice, they found it useful to describe different ways of thinking in design. This then leads to a whole different field which is recognized as design thinking today.


Design thinking emerged in designing where efforts were made to create a science to better understand design in the ’60s. It was an effort to “scientise” the designing as stated by Nigel Cross in, “Designerly ways of knowing: design discipline versus design science (2001)”. In the mid-’60s the term, “wicked problems” was getting famous which described the problems in design and their potential solutions. It is considered that wicked problems were the origin of design thinking because these problems were grounded methodologically, and the purpose of these problems was to understand human nature to better understand the design.


Fast forward to the present IDEO became the pioneer of bringing design thinking to the mainstream in 1991. Today, design thinking is being taught at Stanford School of Design and is getting popular in Engineering, Education, Design, Business, and most importantly in Technology. But what is the driving force behind design thinking?

It is common knowledge that Design Thinking leads to Innovation but before innovation comes to a very important step that is the core of innovation as a collaborative effort between people. Originally in Design, there was a great need for understanding customer behavior and problems which lead to the creation of design thinking. Design thinking in turn results in a greater understanding of behavior, problems, and circumstances. The question arises here that where does Empathy come in this whole process?


By creating a better understanding of customers and putting one into the shoes of others, it becomes easier to create empathy for customers. This empathy allows customers to recognize their valid feelings and builds trust. This empathy and mutual understanding of the problem and possible solutions more than often leads to innovation. The process of understanding customers and leading innovation from there is very useful for several fields. This usefulness was recognized early in the history of design thinking and thus design thinking became mainstream by incorporating it into some of the most mainstream fields today such as business and technology.


This was just a glimpse into how design thinking came to be. We have so much more in store in terms of Innovation Methods, Case Studies, and Innovative Tools. Stay Tuned!


Check out our other Blogs: https://www.thefirstloop.com/post/what-is-design-thinking-why-is-it-important

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