DesignThinking@Williams offers techniques for solving social, cultural, and economic problems using creative thinking and human centered design. These tools can assist faculty in their teaching objectives; empower students in their social and entrepreneurial endeavors; assist the College as it continually improves the Williams experience; and prepare students to use the strength of their liberal arts education in purposeful ways in the work environment. A Design Thinker in Residence provides support in helping others learn these techniques.
Design thinking builds creative confidence; encourages the taking of risks to allow innovative solutions; offers ways to test many different ideas, and learn from failure; and helps to craft solutions focused on the human experience. This approach to problem solving is used in start-ups, consumer-facing businesses, non-profits committed to social change, and government agencies seeking ways to improve the citizen experience.
Design thinking involves a series of steps that encourage creative inquiry, such as always indulging in divergent thinking—testing the bounds of reasonable options—before converging on a possible solution; team work that respects the kind of diversity of educational experience gained in a liberal arts college; and focusing on the opportunity for solutions to benefit people, not institutions, policies, or models.
Explaining the concepts of design thinking
Design thinking as an approach to problem solving can be defined in many ways—some suggest it should be called "creative inquiry," or "creative collaboration," or even the academic sounding "abductive reasoning." It has been called design thinking because some of the techniques emerged from the design profession, even as they moved from making objects to thinking about creative solutions to much larger problems of human experience.
Today, these approaches are being used to develop human-centered solutions for innovative products and services, the citizen experience (such as voting or the way we serve veterans), public services (particularly health care), and larger social problems that depend upon changing the human experience (hunger, clean water, farming in the third world).
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Guides to the process of design thinking
Different organizations have different approaches toward the process of human-centered design solutions. Here we provide three examples and a review of other toolkits.
IBM Field Guide to Design Thinking
IDEO.org Design Thinking Field Guide
Innovators' Guidebook by gravitytank
Tools for design thinking
...and maybe a Design Thinker in Residence or any student who has experienced the process.
Keep all the dimensions of success in mind...
...and brainstorm wildly.
The material on this website and in the practice of design thinking owes a debt to the pioneering work and the commitment to sharing tools and practices by Ideo, Ideo.org, Acumen Foundation, IBM, frog design, and gravitytank.