Talk:Design thinking

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Needs attention[edit]

Google seems to report this as a current management fad of some sort, but the article needs a good workout. Cites, etc. Coren 03:59, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Design thinking is a mind set that should be explained in detail in the wikipedia. It is something along the lines with innovator, or designer.

This article should be removed or simply become a topic under design. Otherwise, it is just a buzz word and should be labeled as such.


This is hardly a fad or buzzword. The current entry does not by any means represent the significance of the term.

We're planning an event in DFW and would like to get the entry cleaned up to synthesize the key elements of the concept for the event.

This is a term that has the potential to bring together different dimensions of design by helping to discover common threads -- and truly elevate design to the strategic role that it can play in fundamentally changing business.

General references here:

Start with two Roger Martin references, an interview:

and a journal issue dedicated to Business Design (see his editorial and the first article):

A clear distinctive element of design thinking is abductive reasoning:

Iknovate 21:55, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


Design Thinking is the application of Design principles on other fields, such as engineering. There is an ongoing and active effort to build a "Design Thinking Community", so the term is definetely not a fad. The company IDEO has a strong influence on the development of the term as well as the culture and methods behind it there are also various TED talks referencing "design thinking"

Sniggy 22:13, 11 December 2008 (GMT)


I think the article is too heavily influenced with the works arising from IDEO and Stanford The work from these two sources have been quoted quite often in popular media but does not mean that they are the ones who have shaped the understanding of design thinking. For those who equate design thinking with some sort of process, it would worthwhile to take a look at an articles by assistant managing editor of Businessweek, Bruce Nussbaum Having said that, I would assert that design thinking is a very potent way of innovating. And we must consider the academic work underway in this field for decades in universities such as Delft University of Technology, Aalborg University, University of Technology, Sydney etc.


The article needs to explain the origins and history of the concept. Where does this process originate? How did it develop? Who says that the words "design thinking" mean the concept described here and not something else? Leonard of Vince (talk) 02:39, 2 March 2009 (UTC)


This article conflates science and engineering. This is especially so in the "Bryan Lawson Architects vs. Engineers, 1979" section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Neverjustlooking (talkcontribs) 03:48, 7 August 2013 (UTC)


I think the section "Differences from science and humanities" and its subsection "The language of design" should be deleted. It's irrelevant. As far as how the article is written, design thinking is a method. Even if it's not science since it hasn't been tested (unless it's there and somehow, I glossed over some information about it), nobody needs to know why it should be different from science and humanities. There's a Wikipedia article on design already so "The language of design" is unnecessary. 20:51, 30 October 2013 (EST) - Skywicke — Preceding unsigned comment added by Skywicke (talkcontribs)

Academic legitimacy[edit]

The content of this article is very limited (primarily someone's personal take on design thinking), but I've added a comment and a link about ongoing academic research in design thinking. So it's not just a 'current management fad'! Nigel Cross

There are two academic institutes teaching Design Thinking: Hasso Plattner Institute of Design in Stanford: and Hasso Plattner Institute - School of Design Thinking in Potsdam: - there is also ongoing research on "design thinking" --Sniggy —Preceding undated comment was added at 21:08, 11 December 2008 (UTC).

Seems like just a relabeling for promotional purposes. --Ronz 17:34, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

THINKING: Problem Solving and Creative Thinking knows 2 basic, fundamental, opposed forms of thinking: Analytical Thinking and Synthetic Thinking (According to Prof. Dr. Emil Brauchlin, Problemlösungs- und Entscheidungsmethodik, University of St. Gallen). Analytical Thinking is dividing, decomposing a problem in its smaller, constitutive parts to look at and understand them, and Synthetic Thinking is the opposite and refers to the process of re-combining these parts to re-construct a larger entity to find a solution to the problem. Going into depth and then coming back to surface. What actually Design Thinking could stand for is a way of thinking that looks at processes and the sequences of facts or events in interaction with (End)Users. I think this could give Design Thinking a legitimate place in a modern Encyclopaedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Francois Hutter (talkcontribs) 12:54, 2 February 2010 (UTC)


While the article might be better off deleted/merged, if someone wants to take a stab at cleanup: the lead is much too long vs the size of the article, the ref should be at the bottom, the stages/steps should be referenced and made encyclopedic or otherwise removed. --Ronz 16:09, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

I've (drastically) edited down the introduction. The Simon quote allowed the following 'Design thinking is, then, . . .', which doesn't stand as an opening sentence in its own right. I've deleted the material about 'boiling down' problems, etc. because design thinking (as practised by designers) doesn't proceed from 'understand problem' to 'propose solution' - problem and solution co-evolve. The rest of the article still needs a lot of work! It's another example of a patchy, personal 'essay' rather than an encyclopedia entry. Nigel Cross 18:01, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

I added two main interpretations, but this page has been a backwater in wikipedia I think for a while. Also, the 7 step process is an example not they only way - and not a very good one (learn at the end, really? Edit was prompted by my blog discussion: please contribute if you like:

- Tom Barker April 2011

Design Thinking has two interpretations: Option 1) Designers bringing their methods into business - by either taking part themselves in business process, or training business people to use design methods. Option 2) Designers achieving innovative outputs, for example: 'the iPod is a great example of design thinking.'

Option 1) has been described Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, at a TED lecture, though his blog also considers an element of 2). Business schools with an interest in innovation, such as the Imperial Business School (ranked 5 globally for innovation) also tend to adopt option 1). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:27, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

I did some clean-up of the summary paragraphs in attempt to make them more encyclopedic and recognize the various uses of Design Thinking in engineering, design, business and education. I also added some headers to give structure to future additions to this article. PYRSMIS 23:50, 14 June 2011 (UTC)


I deleted the section "Differences from science and humanities" and its subsection "The language of design". I left the other subsection "Design thinking in business" intact because it's relevant. The ones I deleted are irrelevant. As far as how the article is written, design thinking is a method. Even if it's not science since it hasn't been tested, nobody needs to know why it should be different from science and humanities. There's a Wikipedia article on design anyway so "The language of design" is unnecessary. 21:00, 30 October 2013 (EST) - Skywicke — Preceding unsigned comment added by Skywicke (talkcontribs)

Analytical thinking[edit]

Unfortunately there is no working link to "analytical thinking"; so maybe this article could be extended to explain how it differs from analytical thinking? The "design thinking" idea doesn't seem to me as something very "revolutionary", but maybe a comparison with other thinking methods highlights some truly different and new ideas? (talk) 11:35, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Does the article, Analytical skill, help explain "analytical thinking"? Chimin 07 (talk) 03:35, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Herbert Simon?[edit]

I'm not sure why H Simon is referenced in this context of 'design thinking'. Did he advocate the creative resolution of problems through design thinking? Did he advocate the 'seven stages' process as given here? In this article these points are directly referenced to Sciences of the Artificial - erroneously I suspect. Nigel Cross (talk) 13:35, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

The entry is decidedly devoid of the references to economics that should be included (Herbert Simon certainly qualifies). Why? Because fundamental to design and particularly to design thinking are the weightings and tradeoffs that influence choice. The fundamentals of economics are about choice: "Economics is a theory of choice and its unintended consequences." Devoid of an understanding of economics -- particularly of the Heynsian variety -- would leave anyone short-sighted in their ability to apply the principles of design thinking. Iknovate (talk) 02:44, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

I have the first edition of Sciences of the Artificial and I could not find either cite attributed to Simon; and I looked very carefully through most of the book. Yes, he has lots to say about the science of design generally, but I am quite certain he did not specifically articulate the seven stages attributed to him in this article. Nick (talk) 11:37, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The Simon reference, which I've relocated to the opening sentence, is legit and good way to ground this article in something other than flimsy management-consulting jargon. The exact quote from the 2nd edition is: "Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing circumstances into preferred ones… Schools of engineering, as well as schools of architecture, business, education, law, and medicine, are all centrally concerned with the process of design.” (Simon, 1981, p. 129) Perhaps this quote would be good to include in the article, under Education. PYRSMIS 23:54, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I see that Simon was referenced twice in the article. Indeed, the second is erroneous and I've deleted it. PYRSMIS 23:56, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
This seems to say that anyone who writes about design as a general concept is necessarily writing about "Design thinking", The process of design in a very generic sense is ancient, the particular methodology here is a recent formulation. Unless the term is actually used by an author in the sense used in this article, I don't think a quote is relevant DGG ( talk ) 23:36, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

New Suggestions[edit]

This page is currently IDEO's process as documented on Nightline in the 'Deep Dive.' The process is not wrong, however, it isn't the only approach in terms of process. Nor is process the only aspect of design thinking.

Suggestion: 1. As design thinking is more solution-based thinking than one example of a process, we suggest to keep this page as is with the topic heading "Design Process". And then other firms/scholars could add other processes out there. 2. Then wiki could create a new page called "Design Thinking" to encompass the methodologies and metacognition. This page would have the history and creation of Design Thinking from the 1960s citing scholars from the field like Nigel Cross, Bryan Lawson and Horst Rittel. This page would also start to address the differences of Design Thinking, Science Thinking and Art and Humanities Thinking. 3. Link to Wicked Problems page and links to Design Process page. As design thinking addresses wicked problems. (talk) 20:15, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Rewrite 8/15/11[edit]

We have posted a complete rewrite of what design thinking is. We hope this sparks a better, more neutral Design Thinking Wikipedia page.

The page that was here previously with IDEO's design process steps is good information as well. There is currently a design methods page, and there should be a "Design Process" page as well where others can add their processes. I am not sure how to "move pages" with all the history, or if it can be done with the previous iteration. Hopefully an administrator of the Design Thinking page can make this happen.

ShonaBose (talk) 22:14, 15 August 2011 (UTC) in collaboration with Salon |e| Aspire

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: there is no consensus to move the article GB fan 01:17, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Design thinkingDesign ProcessRelisted. Arbitrarily0 (talk) 17:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

The section "Design Thinking as a Process for Problem-Solving" that has been added back shows one process, and contradicts what is said in the "Methods versus Process" section in that there are MANY MANY MANY different processes that people use to do design thinking, and even use to do design thinking for problem solving. The ebook How Do You Design by Hugh Dubberly names at least 130 different models of process.

So again, I would argue for the need of a "Design Process" page where all (or some) of these models can be showcased. The one on this page can be the "Design thinking as a Process for Problem-Solving" and should be attributed to Koberg and Bagnall (from The All new Universal Traveller) and to the Stanford D.School who uses it to understand design thinking in the 21st century.

Thanks, ShonaBose (talk) 17:30, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Comment. Not sure if the article should be moved or not, but if it is moved it should be to Design process per WP:CAPS. Jenks24 (talk) 09:47, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


The lead still contains no reference that substantiates this as a legitimate topic for an article, rather than promotion. If one (or preferably more) can't be provided I'm afraid that the next step is AFD. Comments welcome. Andrewa (talk) 04:14, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the article is badly written, structured, etc. But design thinking is certainly a legitimate topic for an article - as witnessed by the many references included to the work of academic authors. The article needs a lot of attention and rewriting, but not a threat of deletion (nor renaming/moving). Nigel Cross (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:00, 2 October 2011 (UTC).

Reader's Viewpoint: Helped Me a Lot[edit]

I am an experienced software designer and educational technologist and PhD student working on a systems thinking paper in instructional design. From my perspective, there has to be a Design Thinking entry in Wikipedia. I have traced the lineage of systems thinking in instructional design and arrived at similar points raised by Design Thinking as described in this entry. I cannot speak from many years of experience as an academic but fundamentally, what this article describes is what the best instructional designers do. Work out the details, neutrality, etc., but don't fundamentally change the article. I found it very helpful. I expected it to be here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Czintgraff (talkcontribs) 16:48, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

2014 Updates[edit]

A lot has happened since this article was first written. Several books specifically about Design Thinking as a method have been published and there has been significantly greater public exposure to the subject in the popular and academic press. As a graduate of Stanford's product design program and someone who has tried to stay current on the subject both personally and professionally, I'm hoping to walk the line between original research and accurate referencing. DWmFrancis (talk) 06:31, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Some serious editing would be welcome. It's all rather messy. As someone commented earlier, it should really focus on Design Thinking, not design processes or methods more generally. I hope you won't mind if I suggest that an emphasis on Stanford has become a bit too pronounced; the was certainly a significant innovator, but Design Thinking had other origins and is much more widely spread now.

Nigel Cross (talk) 14:08, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Nigel - I agree (in spite of my begin a Stanford PD grad and contemporary of Kelley) but have a question; Since the first documented use of the term "Design Thinking" as a method doesn't seem to occur in the literature until fairly recently (1970ish) and McKim was at Stanford at the time, it's a little difficult to separate the two. Would it help to have a section on the spread of the idea to other venues? What would you think of also expanding the references to the work of L. Bruce Archer in establishing Design as a "knowledge-based discipline in its own right". He was a contemporary of Simon's and contributed significantly to the development of the discipline. DWmFrancis (talk) 16:43, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

It would be nice if we could be precise on the 'first use'. I don't seem to have my copy of McKim's book any more, but I don't remember it being about design thinking as we now know it. I'm not really keen on a new section on spread to other venues (it might be contentious). I do agree on greater recognition for Bruce Archer's contributions. Nigel Cross (talk) 14:45, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

@ Nigel - Please forgive my opacity at not recognizing with whom I was corresponding. I have just put one and one together and realized who you are. (aided by being in the midst of reading your excellent book "Design Thinking"). I recently did a nGram search on the phrase "Design Thinking" and found a distinct starting point in 1960, with a very slight rise between then and 1971 when it was back to zero, followed by a continual rise. I contrast this with the phrase "design thinking", which shows a similar pattern beginning in 1912.

From drilling down into the quotations from the associated texts, I get the very strong impression that there was a shift afoot in the usage from being an idea (ways of thinking when doing design of any type) to being a name associated with a formal process or discipline of "Design Thinking" which started about 1970. How I'd put that into the Wikipedia article without being accused of original research is beyond me at the moment. I am enough of a neophyte Wiki editor that I don't know how to thank you for thanking me for my contribution, so I'll just do it here.--DWmFrancis (talk) 16:58, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Deletion of the section on differences between sciences and humanities[edit]

I'd like to delete the section on differences between sciences and humanities entirely, since it doesn't add anything to the understanding of the methods or purposes of Design Thinking. --DWmFrancis (talk) 16:59, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Lin Hsin Hsin and Equguru[edit]

Someone with username Equguru is repeatedly inserting an inappropriate citation of a lecture by artist Lin Hsin Hsin in the 'History' list (1987). Lin Hsin Hsin is an artist not a designer and as far as I know and can see from her Wikipedia entry has made no contribution to Design Thinking. The cited lecture was entitled "Thought as an Art Form", which sounds appropriate for an artist. I deleted the entry on March 13 because it is not relevant. Equguru has since replaced it and made other acts of vandalism. Equguru's hundreds of contributions since 2009 have been entirely devoted to Lin Hsin Hsin. Probably Equguru has a close relationship with Lin Hsin Hsin. I am not a sufficiently experienced Wikipedian, but I know that contributors can be banned. Can someone please ban Equguru? Nigel Cross (talk) 10:47, 27 March 2014 (UTC)