Design Thinking


Design thinking is a human-centric approach to assist businesses to improve their existing products and generate new ideas about possible products and services. It is a creative approach to problem solving. Although not invented by IDEO, it has come to be closely associated with the five-step method developed by that design practice. An evolving approach, its five steps were initially formalised as: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

The three criteria applied to determining whether a design is possible are: desirability, from a human point of view; feasibility from a technological perspective; and viability, from an economic perspective. Its key values, therefore, relate to: the human, technology and economy.

A key figure associated with design thinking is Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO.

Note that the design of narrative environments, in orienting itself towards the values of human, narrative and environment, takes the position that design is not simply or narrowly defined as a problem solving process.


Brown, T. (2008) ‘Design thinking’, Harvard Business Review, 86(6), pp. 85–92. Available at [Accessed 15 September 2021]

IDEO (No date) Design thinking defined. IDEO Design Thinking. Available at [Accessed 15 September 2021]