Design Thinking – Does It Make Sense?

A design is typically a detailed description or model for the construction of a structure or system, or even for the implementation of some activity or procedure, or the end product of that model, product or procedure. The word ‘design’ itself therefore denotes both a process and a design, and refers to the output of the process or design. The verb ‘design’ then denotes that actual production of a physical object bears the result of the model or simulation. ‘Implementing’ also connotes the production of something, and ‘to implement’ is to bring into being things which are actually in existence. The combined definition of ‘design’ and ‘implementing’ thus provides us with three distinctively different usage of the term ‘design’.


It has been argued by many authors that the best definition of design is ‘an effort to derive a new design from existing knowledge.’ This approach, however, presents many problems. First of all, as noted above, one of the major purposes of designing is to derive new knowledge and to do so in such a way as to be relevant and useful. By stipulating that creativity is not the only purpose of designing, we therefore have no choice but to include within the definition of the term, other possible purposes, such as providing for improved usability or finding applications for which it is difficult to find a practical application.

The third possibility, that of applying knowledge in a particular context, seems to imply that the purpose of designing is to apply it in a particular context. In fact, this may be true of almost any creative endeavor, and especially so if the end goal is to provide solutions or make the world a better place in some measurable way. Design thinking therefore is more than mere generic research; it involves problem solving and application. Thus, it is useful for understanding human needs, and its ability to create order out of chaos.