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Design Thinking: Theories and Applications

Hong Kong Polytechnic University via edX


Design thinking has become very popular recently. It is because many people believe that design thinking can help generate innovative solutions. Many business and non-business organizations are adopting it to resolving their problems. Even business schools and other disciplines include design thinking in their curriculum. Then, what is design thinking, really? And how can it benefit us?

Design thinking is commonly recognized as a problem-solving process that includes five stages - Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. However, when we compare the design thinking process with the conventional problem-solving process, there are no major differences, except the implementation part.

Design thinking looks at problems with a holistic and human-centric perspective. It also tackles complex problems by using a non-linear approach. However, some people claim that considering design thinking as a problem-solving process is too simplistic.

Actually, design thinking should be considered as behaviors and attitudes when dealing with problems. Design thinkers use different thinking styles and attitudes when approaching problems. Design thinkers possess certain personal traits like human-centeredness, having a flexible and creative thinking style, being comfortable with subjective and intuitive judgement, and high self-efficacy. These thinking styles and attitudes help not only in problem-solving but also in finding opportunities. In order to be proficient in design thinking, we should not only understand the design Thinking process, but also have to make ourselves become a design thinker.

This MOOC provides you with core knowledge about design thinking and demystifies design thinking as a process for solving complex and wicked problems.


W eek 1: Why we need to learn design thinking?

In this module, you should get a good idea of why we need to learn design thinking and how design thinking helps in generating innovative solutions and identifying opportunities.

W eek 2: The demystification of design thinking

This module covers some essential elements of design thinking and explains in detail the theories behind design thinking.

W eek 3: How to apply design thinking?

This module describes in detail how to apply design thinking approach and design thinking tools in problem-solving.

W eek 4: Creativity and Problem-solving

This module explains the importance of creativity in problem-solving. It also suggests ways to improve and nurture creativity.

W eek 5: How to become a design thinker?

In order to fully capture the benefit of design thinking, we should turn ourselves to become design thinkers. This module describes the characteristics and attitudes of design thinkers.

Taught by

Henry MA, Jae-Eun OH and Yuet Kai, Amelie CHAN

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