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Design Thinking - Defining Concept of Design Thinking

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My examples

My design examples are both related to new innovations within the technology sector. Both products were developed as a result of a problem that had been solved and then as a result a new opportunity was seen. The designers thought outside the box and came up with a new idea

Example 1

Figure 1- SynDaver (Kleinman, 2015)

SynDaver – A synthetic Cadaver

The SynDaver is a synthetic cadaver that can replace the usage of real human bodies that have been donated to science. The SynDaver has a multitude of uses not limited to the medical field but in vehicle testing (as a dummy with anatomical accuracy).

Figure 2 - Baby SynDaver

The SynDaver allows medical practitioners to practice on what would normally not be possible, as in order to donate a body to science one has to be 18 and above. This allows both student and practicing surgeon to become familiar with the anatomy of a baby.

Example 2

The iKnife – A cancer

detecting cauterizer

The original intention of

attaching a “vacuum” to a

cauterizer was to remove

the smell of burning flesh

from the surgical room.

However, whilst

prototyping one of the

creators believed the idea

could be further improved by attaching a device that would smell the foul smelling smoke and differentiate tissue types. The iKnife does this by sucking the smoke into a mass spectrometer, which instantly identifies the tissue being cauterized and is able to tell surgeons what is being operated on,

from cancer to connective tissue.

Figure 2 - iKnife (Cheng, 2013)

Figure 3 - How the iKnife works (Kaiser, Smart Knife Sniffs Out Cancer Cells, 2013)

Definition of design thinking

The process in which I arrived at a definition

Design thinking was first devised in 1969 to Herbert A. Simon’s book The Sciences of the Artificial (Simon, 1996), where Simon mentioned how “Design, so construed, is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences”. Simon viewed humans as simple behaving systems, that apparent complexity of their behavior is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves. Simon’s work is then taken forward by Peter Rowe’s 1987 book (Rowe, 1998) which uses concepts mentioned in Simon’s book to illuminate methodology used by architects and urban planners. These pioneers of the design world understood that solving a problem was not enough, especially if the solution could be evolved into a more ergonomic/human design.

I believe my definition takes the core beliefs of design thinking and condenses them into a sentence as it, design thinking, is a congregation of thought processes that involve taking a product. A product that is then improved upon, evolving from prototype to prototype, until the designer is satisfied with the end product (resembling the process of natural selection). This approach is being by almost all designers of functional products (Chindogu’s aside) in order to move their ideas forward from just ideas. Paul Rand mentions that “The public is more familiar with bad design than good design". It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.

My definition of design thinking

“Design thinking is not the product design, it is the process in which a problem has been understood, solved and then improved upon”.

Examples of Design Thinking as a strategic tool in business leadership Example 1

SynDaver – A synthetic cadaver

Figure 4 - dSchool Paris Design thinking process (dSchool)

The synthetic cadaver was developed using the dSchool design thinking model. With an initial idea to create anatomically Identical organs and muscle groups to help prospective doctors through medical school. The idea evolved once prototypes had been created, we see this as the company (syndaverLabs) no longer only produce single organs but a complete body with single organs ready to replace those that have been previously operated in. This is an example of the ideation stage, where the initial product has been created, through testing and ideation a new idea was generated. This process allowed the company to complete its initial goals whilst allowing the company to evolve the product into a larger more marketable product. This is seen in the wide variety of real world applications for the SynDaver:

• Crash test dummy

• has been used in TV shows such as: Mythbusters, CSI, Greys anatomy and countless


• Medical School teaching and learning especially during PBL classes

• And countless



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