Is design thinking collaborative? (+7 attributes of design thinking)

In this post, we will be discussing if design thinking is collaborative. We shall be looking at what design thinking is in detail and why organizations need it. In addition, we will be explaining the various attributes of design thinking. With organizations becoming more innovative, design thinking is a great way to build a creative culture among the employees.

Is design thinking collaborative?

To answer this in simple terms, design thinking can be collaborative if properly executed. For design thinking to be collaborative in an organization, various factors should be in place, like:

  • Opportunities for brainstorming and idea sharing in a supportive environment
  • Open-mindedness from all the team members to give growth to ideas
  • Collaborative decision making for efficient achievement of goals

Collaborative design thinking itself is an improved version of basic design thinking. It not only allows creativity to grow in an organization but also brings these ideas to life in the form of innovative products and campaigns. Collaborative design thinking as a business strategy is becoming increasingly implemented in many organizations today.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a process by which an organization allows individual team members to design solutions for various benefits. These can include new products and services as well as the betterment of the organizational culture itself. This new methodology is wholly based on creativity while following a shared set of values and a common vision.

Design thinking is completely human-centered and brings new perspectives into technology. Since it encourages the creation of products fully committed to help people, it is being increasingly sought after in business organizations. It combines the process of collaboration and creativity to stimulate new ideas and solutions.

Why do organizations need design thinking?

Organizations today need design thinking in their ecosystems as it brings many benefits that other approaches might not. A few of the reasons why organizations should implement design thinking are given below:

  • Innovation is greatly required in this era of technology and being highly encouraged
  • Diversity is needed and sought after in all areas
  • Businesses involved in technology require highly creative employees
  • Art and technology are being successfully combined increasingly
  • Creativity can lead to stronger communities
  • The economy also requires great innovation

Attributes of design thinking

Design thinking can lead to a strong and healthy culture in an organization. It can help employees tap their highest potentials and encourage them to work for larger causes. The attributes of design thinking that make it so popular are explained in this section:

Open-mindedness to new ideas

When design thinking is implemented in a group, the team members are open to new ideas and suggestions. Though the idea might sound crazy or wild, it is still valuable to the team. This perception allows the team to experiment and find new solutions. This open-mindedness happens only when the right individuals are chosen to be part of the team.

Non-judgmental attitude to diverse opinions

Open-mindedness and creativity can be implemented only when team members have a non-judgmental attitude. When team members are non-judgmental, more ideas and opinions are discussed. Personal bias is not encouraged in design thinking as it might lead to great insights being buried.

Collaborative in nature

Collaboration is when team members work closely with each other in order to fulfill a specific purpose. Collaborative teams have individuals who have various skill sets and expertise. These members can bring in various perspectives and allow better workflow. Collaboration can create an environment of positivity and support in a team, leading to better work productivity.

Constructive rather than destructive

Design thinking focuses on constructive ideas and thoughts. It seeks to build on the older ideas and combine them with new ones. Even though creativity and innovation is encouraged, old ideas and concepts are not totally discarded. Instead, the newer ideas are integrated with the old structures, leading to less waste but newer products.

Curious to know more

Curiosity is highly encouraged in design thinking. Team members are encouraged to ask more questions and learn new concepts and new skills. Curiosity leads to better understanding of the issue and can bring various perspectives into the picture. Curiosity allows team members to deeply probe a topic, generating more solutions for problems.

Holistic to have different perspectives

When design thinking is encouraged in a team, they can look at a concept or issue from various angles. It also allows the team to look at the problem from a bigger perspective allowing larger changes to happen. This also allows the team members to have a better sense of purpose as they relate to the goal more.

Empathy for others

Design thinking also encourages team members to empathize with each other. Due to this, each team member understands the other’s opinions and their feelings. Since design thinking is highly human-centered, empathy is an essential concept. This allows the organization to create products that connect to consumers at a deeper level.

Ambiguous to problems

Ambiguity is a great perspective to imbibe. This quality is very essential in organizations where problems and uncertainty can occur at any time. With ambiguity a team can better accept the unknown and look for new solutions in various issues.


In this post, we have discussed if design thinking is collaborative. We have looked at what design thinking is in detail and why organizations need it. In addition, we have explained the various attributes of design thinking.

Frequently asked questions: (Is design thinking collaborative?)

Is design thinking agile?

Yes, design thinking is highly agile in its process. It enforces a human-centered approach to creating new products and services. Thus, design thinking and collaborative design thinking is becoming increasingly used in business organizations all over the world.

Through design thinking, a particular issue is perceived from many different angles, creating multiple solutions for a problem. With design thinking, an organization can implement a flatter structure with lesser hierarchical levels and more collaboration between functionalities. It encourages curiosity and experimenting in team members, leading to innovative practices.

Design thinking has several benefits for an organization. A few of these benefits are explained below:

  • It encourages innovation and creativity
  • It gives life to ideas
  • It leads to business profits for organizations
  • It allows creation of consumer-friendly and human-centered products and services
  • It leads to happier employees
  • It allows flexibility and freedom in the workspace
  • It promotes adaptability to changes and trends

What is the purpose of design thinking?

Design thinking allows teams to come up with better solutions for problems. They are also encouraged to create multiple solutions for a particular issue. Design thinking leads to the creation of user-friendly products and services, thus putting the consumer and customer first.

What are the 5 stages of design thinking?

The design thinking process which allows team members to understand user’s perspectives and problems better, has 5 main stages. These are:

Empathizing with the user

In this stage, the team researches the needs and problems of the user. The goal is to develop an empathetic understanding from the user’s perspective. Since design thinking is entirely human-centered, empathy is a crucial requirement. Empathetic understanding allows the team to set aside their personal biases and focus on making a consumer-friendly product.

Defining the user needs and problems

Once the research about the problems of the user has been done, the user needs to be properly completed. The problems and issues need to be critically analyzed and defined in order to start working on the solution. These definitions of problems are technically called problem statements in the design thinking process.

Idea generation

Since the problem has been researched thoroughly and defined, ideas can be generated for its solution. Design thinking encourages creativity and innovation. This means even wild ideas are allowed and valued. The team members generally brainstorm together in order to create brand new ideas or build on older ones in constructive ways.

Prototyping new solutions

Once the ideas have been generated, the team can now create solutions. The team members are encouraged to not only come up with one solution but also multiple solutions for the problem. To demonstrate the solution better, scaled-down models can be used to further check the scope of the solution.

Testing and trying out solutions

When the prototypes have been created and accepted by the team members, it is essential to test out the solutions. These solutions need to be rigorously tested with actual persons in order to prevent further problems after the actual release of the product or the service. Testing allows problems to be spotted early and corrected or refined.

What are the design thinking tools?

Design thinking uses many tools according to the phase the team is currently in. The phases are Immersion, Analysis and Synthesis, Ideation and finally Prototyping. A few of the tools used in each phase are discussed below:

Immersion tools

This refers to tools like exploratory research, desk research, interviews and shadowing. Here, the team members seek to understand the context of the problem. They specifically aim to understand the issue from the user’s perspective. The whole aim of these tools is to create an empathetic understanding and better awareness of the issue.

Analysis and Synthesis tools

These tools are those that can be used to critically research the issue and define the problem. Examples of the tools used here are Insight Cards, Personas, Concept Maps, Blueprints and User Journeys. These tools are used by the team to better visualize the problem while also allowing analysis of data and reasoning.

Ideation tools

Ideation tools are used to create and generate innovative ideas and solutions for the problem at hand. These tools can be Brainstorming, Ideas Menu, Brainwriting, etc. These tools can allow quick generation of ideas from the team members. It also encourages open-mindedness and non-judgmental thinking so that team members don’t hesitate to share opinions.

Prototyping tools

Once the ideas are generated, they need to be visually demonstrated to ensure their proper working. The tools used for prototyping can be Paper Prototyping, Staging, Storyboards or Volume Models. These can help make an idea tangible so that other members can better understand it. It also helps the team obtain market validation.

What are the 3 most important elements of design thinking?

The three most important elements of design thinking are:

  • Inspiration which refers to solid research and deep understanding of the problem
  • Ideation where ideas and solutions are generated for the core problem defined
  • Implementation where prototypes are created and tested in order to obtain market validation


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