Why Indian Youth Needs Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a leading buzzword across industry sectors today. In 2019, we hosted ‘Design Awards’ for students of 8th to 12th grades. Participants came up with innovative ideas to overcome real-life problems by adopting the design thinking methodology. Their solutions ranged from helping their school support staff to controlling air pollution in their city. But what is design thinking all about? Let’s discuss. 

Did you know that ‘design thinking’ draws its origins from World War II? This concept was propagated by a Nobel Laureate as a creative response to the social and political changes prevalent at that time. So, advocates of the same must recognize the importance of this approach and its potential in changing the way the world functions.

Be it the wireless earphones, sustainable fashion, drones, or energy-efficient appliances, solutions lie everywhere. Everything begins with a necessity to transform, an idea, and out-of-the-box problem-solving, encapsulated as ‘innovative thinking’.

Evolution of Design Thinking 

Historically, it was from the ashes of the industrial revolution and World War II that novel ideas emerged, pushing the boundaries of what seemed technologically possible at the time. It took a host of engineers, architects, academics, scientists, and industrial designers to converge on the issues at hand to get the work done. 

Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, a cognitive scientist, was the first to mention design thinking as a ‘way of thinking’ in his pioneering 1969 book, The Sciences of the Artificial. From then, the process started to combine the human, technological, and strategic needs of our times and progressively developed over the decades to become the leading innovation methodology it is today. 

What, Why & How

Design thinking is a way of challenging assumptions, redefining problems, and finding innovative solutions to complex problems. But why do we need it?

Most challenges the Indian youth faces today are difficult to address using the conventional and siloed methods. Every issue has multiple stakeholders and one-stop solutions don’t exist. 

Also, it has increasingly become crucial to develop skills that allow us to understand and act on rapid changes in our environment, society, and behavior. And as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, design thinking offers a means to dig deeper and grapple with all this change. It focuses on addressing problems in a more human-centric manner. 

In practice, design thinking consists of five key phases, namely: 

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test

In design thinking, everybody is an active change agent, involved in generating ideas, making iterations, and taking action. So, don your thinking caps and don’t let the obvious bore you. Question your assumptions about the world and think about everyday problems a bit differently. You never know what might be that ‘next big idea’ that inspires Indian youth and saves humankind!