Design thinking is an innovation method for the design of solutions to ‘wicked problems’, developed in Stanford University in the USA. The biggest advantage of the method is that it manages to capture creativity, while maintaining a full view of process and deliverables. Design thinking appealed to the process-oriented culture of business organizations by introducing a 5-step innovation process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test. By doing so, it was able to shield innovation from the mess, conflict, failure, emotions, and looping circularity that is part and parcel of creative processes.If you are curious I can recommend starting with Design thinking 101 and an understanding of the the Design-thinking process.
Its key contribution to design consists of offering a de-politicized critique of innovation practice from user values point of view, as well as a process-oriented approach for addressing that critique. Design thinking is applied through ethnographic approaches, relying on ’thick’ understandings.
The knowledge derived through the Design thinking processes transitions through a number of levels, ranging from the level of the artefact, through the levels of design rationalization and theory. Müller, R. M., & Thoring, K. (2010) offer a typology of design thinking knowledge: