Using Design Thinking to Solve Complex Problems

Be it your personal or work life; there are multiple problems. Today, we work in a highly unpredictable environment where things change rapidly. Because of this, every solution has its course of life.

With the rapid changes in society, using a solution derived long ago for today’s problem can reap no benefits. There is a need to develop new ways of thinking and design methods to solve current problems. While agile and DevOps can help quickly move forward while solving issues, it is easy to get tangled by finding the right solution for a bad situation.

In a globalized world, the problems that designers, owners, and engineers come across are significantly different from yesterday’s challenges. Therefore, we must innovate how we approach problems to solve the new wave of issues. And this is where design thinking becomes an integral part of the unique approach toward innovation and problem-solving.

What Exactly Is a Design Thinking Process?

The design thinking process is a problem-solving technique that can help you deal with complex issues by tackling them with a human-centric approach. The methodology works best for problems that need a transparent or well-defined goal. It is a human-centric technique of problem-solving that incorporates factors like empathy, collaboration, and feedback to identify the optimal solution.

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Design thinking is an iterative process that you can use for non-linear solutions. It helps in the following:

Design thinking provides an alternative to deal with unknown issues as they focus on critical aspects for the users. It revolves primarily around human understanding as they will be primary users of the product and services. Multiple reasons make design thinking one of the best approaches to problem-solving.

Why Is Design Thinking So Important?

User behavior and the corresponding environment are highly dynamic. Thus, it is critical to keep on refining your skills to stay prepared. Design thinking was first mentioned by scientist and Nobel Prize laureate Herbert A. Simon in 1969. He coined the term The Sciences of the Artificial. Professionals across the fields have been using this methodology to solve today’s rising issues.

Design thinking is a process that helps you think out of the box. Using it allows you to work better on your UX and prototype and provide better usability to your end user. Moreover, it helps you in uncovering new innovative ways that you can use to solve your consumer’s problems.

It is a revolutionizing and driving force in today’s modern corporate world, with major organizations like Google, Apple, and many others also reaping benefits. It also allows your teams to come up with unorthodox or ground-breaking answers. Several reasons make the process ground-breaking and reformative.

What Problems Can Design Thinking Help to Solve?

One of the significant concerns business stakeholders have regarding design thinking is the uncertainty around which situation it can help. It is critical to note that the methodology can help solve problems. But it's best applicable in a case where innovation is required. Below are some other use cases where this technique can be effective.

Furthermore, design thinking is best suited for entrepreneurs starting with their initiatives. This is because it provides them with an intersection between business and society. Moreover, since it focuses on the human touch, the solution is holistic and apt to fulfill the goal. Therefore, design thinking is the way forward when you want to come up with a unique solution that is different from the usual answers.

Five Stages of Problem-Solving Through Design Thinking

The design thinking process consists of five stages for the desired results. These stages are

Below, we dig deeper and try to understand the importance of each stage and how they contribute towards the result.


The first stage of the design thinking process is empathy. It is the point where you consider the perspective of your end consumers. You get a gist of their point of view and how the problems affect them. Empathizing can help you understand the pain points. It helps in understanding the daily life of your consumers. Moreover, it will also help you analyze the needs and motivations of your end users.

Adding empathy to your thinking process enables you to take that extra step. The process helps you to identify your customers' implicit and explicit needs that you can allow through your product or service. The actual representation of how the issue affects people’s lives can benefit you exponentially.

Empathy is a critical aspect of design thinking as it provides that necessary human touch. It requires you to sideline any biases or assumptions you might have and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer. A good example is interviewing the new hires at your company to understand their perspective on the onboarding process and their everyday experience.


The next stage of the problem-solving framework involves defining the problems or issues. Once you find out more details about your customers and their problems, it is time to explain them. Finally, you will use this stage to examine your findings and focus on the issues you and your teams have identified. Again, creating a human-centric problem statement that is easily understandable and solvable is essential.

Defining the problem statement helps set up the context for all the teams to understand easily. Moreover, it is necessary to keep in mind the end goal of the thinking process and design the problem statement accordingly. Finally, you have to frame the problem so teams can identify the difference between the current state and the expected results.

The clearer you are with your problem statement, the better your designer will get at providing an effective solution. An excellent example of a problem statement is, “we need to reduce the number of clicks a customer takes to register on the app.”


The third stage of the design thinking process is one of the most critical aspects as it initiates designing the final solution. It is time for you and your team to brainstorm and develop innovative solutions that have been defined. The best results are seen when teams think outside the box and try to solve their customer’s problems innovatively. Ideating is fun and requires multiple teams to come together for brainstorming sessions.

You will use this stage to develop potential solutions for your defined issues. Working with various groups using a human-centered approach will help identify the correct answers. Teams use multiple brainstorming strategies like the worst possible idea, brain-write, and formal brainstorming sessions. It is essential to keep in mind that no idea is wrong, and you need to be open to all suggestions.

Having multiple feasible solutions will only make the final solution better. There are instances when the optimal solution is a combination of various ideas.


After coming up with solutions through ideating, it is time to start working on the prototype. One critical element of the design thinking process is that you will only find out the feasibility of your solution once you test it under natural conditions. And this is where prototyping comes into the picture. Depending on your budget and resources, you can create the best possible simulation to experiment with your solution. The stage will help you answer questions you might get after implementing the solution.

During this phase, you and your team will work on alternatives to your solution. Different versions during this stage will allow you to gauge the responses to every one of them and refine them further as per the requirement. You can use trusted customers and internal teams to get feedback on the prototype. Documenting the details in the process is essential to ensure all information gets captured.


After analyzing the response to the prototype, it is time to be ready with solutions that can help improve the product or service. It is critical to note that the prototyping and testing stages are iterative and non-linear. While testing, you may come across new problems or better solutions. The design thinking framework is flexible and dynamic, enabling you to make better decisions.

Key Takeaways

The challenges organizations face today are vastly different from those presented a decade ago. And to ensure that you move at the same rapid pace, it is time to come up with unique and innovative solutions. Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative, and dynamic process that enables you to develop innovative solutions through a human-centric approach. The right mindset and better collaboration are critical to nurturing an environment for innovation and invention.