[Event] What is Design Thinking and Where can it be applied?

Sarah Walsh 06.07.2018

Design thinking is a methodology that allows for human-centric approach to solving problems.  

To quote my colleague Lisa Lawlor “It's about Zooming in and back out on your product to see how it functions and if it is designed to work best for the user.”  It means questioning your assumptions, developing empathy by putting yourself in the place of the end user in order to gain true insights into what the user needs.


It is most commonly, but not exclusively, applied to solve problems in the areas of product design, industrial design, information design and service design. A Design Thinking approach can be applied in any scenario where there is a problem and you need a solution – particularly human problems.  It can greatly change the way all human problems are approached not only in business but across our education, social and government sectors.


I recently attended an event held by the Service Design Networks and Johnson Controls (JCI), hosted by Dr. Heather Madden of Cork Institute of Technology, where I was proud to see CIT and Cork County Council taking a leading approach in Ireland in Design Thinking.  Cork County Council, championed by Karen Fitzgerald, are taking great strides in providing better all-round services for the people of Cork by following a Design Thinking method to deliver a new online customer platform along with improving and designing new services. 


Design Thinking is not a new methodology in fact in 1969 Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon outlined his 7 stage the Design Thinking process which has greatly influenced much of Design Thinking methodology that is in use today.  Although the theories vary, and the stages can range from three to seven stages they all have their roots in the principals based in Herbert Simon’s 1969 method. 
The most common Design Thinking method is the 5 stage model developed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Standard. 

  • Empathise – with your users
  • Define – your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights
  • Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions
  • Prototype – to start creating solutions
  • Test – solutions

These stages are not a step by step process they can occur in any order or operate in parallel. For a Design Thinking approach to be successful empathy must be present at all stages of the project. For JCI, Maebh Costello is driving a Design Thinking approach to all projects by ensuring empathy at all stages by applying personas asking the question “What would Brad think?” at each stage, Brad being the end user. 


Here in Morgan McKinley we are also taking this user centred approach to ensure we provide the best service to candidates and companies. Our consultants are specialist in their specific areas to ensure we understand what hiring managers and candidates in their market really need. Another example of a Design Thinking approach is our Career Ally Hub. Our Career Ally Hub is a unique resource centre with a range of intuitive and easy-to-use tools that will help you on your career journey at whatever stage. We understand that finding the right career path is a challenging job in itself. We want to make it easier, less time-demanding and above all, more rewarding.


If you are interested in learning more about Design Thinking join us for our work shop taking place from 6-8pm Tuesday 17th of July at the Morgan McKinley offices in 6 Lapps Quay, Cork City.
This workshop is for those interested in learning more about Design Thinking giving a brief introduction into how to develop and deliver great services using a Design Thinking led approach. It will be delivered by Dr Heather Madden, a Project Leader at Cork Institute of Technology, who plays a key role in identifying, researching and pursuing process improvements across the institute. Interested parties can confirm attendance by email to Lisa Lawlor at llawlor@morganmckinley.com 

Sarah Walsh's picture
Consultant | IT Recruitment
sarahwalsh@morganmckinley.ie

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