Often when i meet Lean Startup fans in Berlin they like to work according “design thinking“. Actually it looks like it sells better as a product development consultant.

But what is design thinking?

Design thinking is described in Wiki as follows:
As a style of thinking, design thinking is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. While design thinking has become part of the popular lexicon in contemporary design and engineering practice, as well as business and management, its broader use in describing a particular style of creative thinking-in-action is having an increasing influence on twenty-first century education across disciplines (source: wikipedia.org).

Design thinking recognizes the differences between:

  • Problem-based solvers versus solution-based solvers
  • Analysis versus synthesis
  • Divergent thinking versus convergent thinking

Problem-based solvers versus solution-based solvers
Design thinking is a methodology for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. In this regard it is a form of solution-based, or solution-focused thinking that starts with the goal or what is meant to be achieved instead of starting with a certain problem. Then, by focusing on the present and the future, the parameters of the problem and the resolutions are explored, simultaneously. This type of thinking most often happens in the built environment, also referred to as the artificial environment (as in artifacts) (source: wikipedia.org).

Analysis versus synthesis
Synthesis is defined as the opposite procedure: to combine separate elements or components in order to form a coherent whole. However, analysis and synthesis, as scientific methods, always go hand in hand; they complement one another. Every synthesis is built upon the results of a preceding analysis, and every analysis requires a subsequent synthesis in order to verify and correct its results (source: wikipedia.org).

Divergent thinking versus convergent thinking
Design Thinkers also use divergent thinking and convergent thinking to explore many possible solutions. Divergent thinking is the ability to offer different, unique or variant ideas adherent to one theme while convergent thinking is the ability to find the “correct” solution to the given problem. Design thinking encourages divergent thinking to ideate many solutions (possible or impossible) and then uses convergent thinking to prefer and realize the best resolution (source: wikipedia.org).


In a process Design Thinking looks as follows (source: wikipedia.org):


  • Decide what issue you are trying to resolve.
  • Agree on who the audience is.
  • Prioritize this project in terms of urgency.
  • Determine what will make this project successful.
  • Establish a glossary of terms.


  • Review the history of the issue; remember any existing obstacles.
  • Collect examples of other attempts to solve the same issue.
  • Note the project supporters, investors, and critics.
  • Talk to your end-users, that brings you the most fruitful ideas for later design.
  • Take into account thought leaders’ opinions.


  • Identify the needs and motivations of your end-users.
  • Generate as many ideas as possible to serve these identified needs.
  • Log your brainstorming session.
  • Do not judge or debate ideas.
  • During brainstorming, have one conversation at a time.


  • Combine, expand, and refine ideas.
  • Create multiple drafts.
  • Seek feedback from a diverse group of people, include your end users.
  • Present a selection of ideas to the client.
  • Reserve judgement and maintain neutrality.
  • Create and present actual working prototype(s)


  • Review the objective.
  • Set aside emotion and ownership of ideas.Avoid consensus thinking.
  • Remember: the most practical solution isn’t always the best.
  • Select the powerful ideas.


  • Make task descriptions.
  • Plan tasks.Determine resources.
  • Assign tasks.
  • Execute.
  • Deliver to client.


  • Gather feedback from the consumer.Determine if the solution met its goals.Discuss what could be improved.
  • Measure success; collect data.
  • Document.

Methods for Design Thinking
Design methods are all the techniques, rules or ways of doing things that are employed by a design discipline. Some of these methods for Design Thinking include creating user profiles, looking at and understanding other designer’s solutions, creating prototypes or study models, mind-mapping, asking the five-whys to get to a crux of the problem, site-analysis, etc (source: wikipedia.org).

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