SolidFace 3D CAD

Design Thinking

As we talked about design skills, generative Design, 3D modeling, and other issues on our blog page, we found something really curious. What is on engineer’s and designer’s minds when handling a project? We asked ourselves with this question because, mostly, when you do a modeling project, a digital design, for example, you have to observe and understand the clients and their needs. 

And that is a skill that requires practice to develop the best possible product or service and to communicate correctly with the customer to sell successfully. How can we seek the best user experience in our business? How to know the smallest details that the customer thinks? How to understand your feelings and your desires to promote a product or service that fits all of this?

In this blog post, we will talk about design thinking. This great methodology can provide a broad spectrum of customers, their desires, actions, and feelings to take advantage when designing a product or service solution. Finally, we will talk about how design thinking can help designers and CAD modelers be upfront about the client’s feedback and why SolidFace is a “design thinking tool” for itself. Check it out!

What is Design Thinking?

As the name implies, design thinking is a form of the approach taken from the field of Design and adapted to companies and corporations. The term is related to “thinking like a designer.” What does this mean in practice? Design, in addition to the aesthetics of products or services, as a type of knowledge, aims to promote well-being in people’s lives.

The appropriation of this concept and its application in the business world has to do with innovation. The perception of the designer of the world and people around him is what managers look for to expand horizons when creating projects and executing tasks, calling this approach Design Thinking.

The term existed previously but was popularized by Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo, an American design consultancy. The entrepreneur seeks to establish the difference between being a designer and thinking like one. In his view, everyone should think like designers, even if they are not from the area, to achieve a level of radical innovation in companies and life.

In the same way that a design professional holistically sees the world around him, observing cognitive, emotional, and aesthetic aspects that affect human experiences, entrepreneurs need to look at their context with empathy to identify problems to be solved and create truly innovative responses for them. At least that is what the defenders of this method think.

In this type of thinking, we seek to formulate questions through the apprehension or understanding of the object to be studied. Questions are formulated from the information collected during the observation of the universe that permeates the problem. So, when design thinking is applied, the solution is not derived from the problem: it fits with it.

How does Design Thinking works?

Design thinking or “Abductive thinking,” as some people say unfolds in research and analysis methods, so that today Design Thinking is seen as a set of practices and processes. This method proposes a new approach to problems. This is related to obtaining information, analyzing it, and the resulting proposed solutions based on the knowledge generated.

The focus becomes the experience of the consumer, or the target audience, which is searching for answers to problems encountered through Design Thinking as a methodological approach. The great difference of this method is that it starts from the solution, from the project, and not necessarily from all the problem’s parameters, as is common in the scientific method. The observation of human life generates insights as to what people want or need. The challenge of Design Thinking is to respond creatively to such needs and desires, primarily through collaborative work between multidisciplinary teams, such as trade marketing, sales, logistics, and product management 

Collaboration with the client or end consumer when creating projects and solutions is also a characteristic of design thinkers. 

A little bit of history: Design’s thinking origins

Let’s go back on time a little bit. Let’s go back to Germany in 1919 when the Bauhaus School of Design was founded in the city of Weimar, by the architect Walter Gropius. The school has revolutionized design, unifying disciplines such as architecture, painting, sculpture, plastic arts, and industrial Design 

They considered applying the diversity of competences, unifying the function of the product as a measure for improving the designs implemented by the industry of the time with the experience of use and aesthetics, which until then were something neglected.

Bauhaus proposed to combine methods and techniques to design products and services that were both functional, with good user experience and aesthetics. They realized that applying this structured way of thinking made everyone involved responsible for the result. For this reason, the result was impacted people living good experiences and becoming happier and more fulfilled. The school was destroyed by Germany’s nazi forces in 1933. The subject only got in study and conversation again in the 70’s crisis in the USA. With the crisis, the design was once again taken into consideration but still focused on the aesthetics of products, packaging, and marketing. The resurgence of the essence of design thinking was in 1992, with the publication of Richard Buchanan’s article, entitled “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking,” published by the academic journal of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). And become more popular with Tim Brown, in the first decade of the new century.

Who can apply it?

This model requires a culture and mentality transformation from those who intend to apply it to their challenges. These are skills and behavioral changes already present in anyone but hindered by daily life routine.

But what are these changes?

Real-world looking and observation: Look for evidence in the real world without getting carried away by opinions. To do this, research, listen, build and test;

Empathy: There is always a human being behind the problem that you want to solve, and it will be he who will use your solution. Then view it as the main source of questions and answers;

Diversity leads to innovation: the diversity of skills, thoughts, and experiences unlocks and enhances creativity. Gathering only experts, managers, directors and the people you care about in a room only increases your risk of not getting good ideas;

Discipline:  Howeverinnovation also depends on discipline. That is, it is necessary to have criteria. It does not serve to create for creating. If you do not have guidelines, even good ideas will probably be lost among dozens of others, not being able to be evaluated, as there would be no criteria for doing so;

Divergence and convergence: also known as the double diamond, this thinking means that, at each point in the design of the problem and solution, you should not start with choices, but with the creation of several options to choose from. Diversity, again, is the key.

Design Thinking Steps

design thinking steps

The steps attributed to design thinking are immersion, ideation, prototyping, and development. Design-driven innovation has complemented the market’s view that to innovate. It is necessary to focus on the development or integration of new technologies and opening and to serve new markets: in addition to these technological and marketing factors, Design Thinking consulting innovates mainly when introducing new meanings to products, services or relationships.

The process, from immersion to development, seeks innovation in a non-linear way, the attribution and discovery of new values ​​and meanings for projects, services, and products, as well as the constitution of integrative thinking as a tool for reaching solutions, not exactly definitive, but holistic and based on consumer experience.

To apply design thinking in the company, it is necessary to design an organizational culture and implement a change in mentality. Employees and other stakeholders must develop empathy, in addition to creating a spirit of collaboration and cooperation. For the team to be successful, it is essential to ensure that creativity is a fuel that is part of the company’s culture.

1. Immersion: This phase of understanding begins with a self-immersion with tools such as SWOT analysis, which studies the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The team investigates the problem identified from different perspectives. The immersion takes place in two stages, first, in a more superficial way, with research on the subject. In this phase, the project boundary is defined. The second part of the immersion is in-depth when a research project is developed.

2. Analysis and Synthesis – After immersion, the initial step that generates a lot of material, we proceed to analyze and synthesize. The information that was collected during the immersion meets a pattern through logical analysis and organization, and thus, understands the problem itself. The visual representation of all this material with graphics, drawings, and post-it annotations displayed on a wall helps to visualize the problem better.

3. Ideation – This is where the problem begins to have a solution, as it is at this next point that all the knowledge accumulated about the problem is linked to the needs of the target audience, in this phase, brainstorming fosters ideas and generates insights. It is very important that the team feels free to experiment and make mistakes. The fear of failure or criticism inhibits great ideas.

4. Prototyping – Prototyping is the next phase. Ideas are transformed into a tangible product. The content sought so far is transformed into actions that can make business opportunities and promote a difference in the company. The prototype serves to feel how the solution behaves in practice.

5. Test – Any product needs to be evaluated on metrics to understand if something needs to be changed. Therefore, the product will also be tested to verify its functionality, quality, and possibility of acceptance. Testing before avoids spending on something that will not work in practice or avoid upfront client´s negative feedback.

Some examples of Design Thinking

“Thinking like a designer” to understand how consumers behave and adapt their products and services to them (and not the other way around) is a practice that has been gaining more fans in the corporate world.

But how does Design Thinking work in practice? Are there examples of really successful Design Thinking?

We selected some great examples of Design Thinking practical applications for you to be inspired when applying to your company.

Design Thinking – Netflix

Of course, Netflix couldn’t be left out of our list of Design Thinking examples. Customizing the user experience is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the billion-dollar streaming platform. The company understands that the behavior of subscribers evolves, as well as their needs. In this sense, to offer the best experience and the best possible solutions, Netflix needs to understand the consumption habits and patterns of its consumers, a basic principle of Design Thinking. It has thousands of complex algorithms that guide the acquisition of content and the launch of its productions. Thus, the films, series, and documentaries are released on the platform only after the necessary analyzes have been made on the topics that subscribers have most shown interest in.

Design Thinking – Totvs

Totvs is a company that produces software and applications for other companies. Realizing the rapid advance of technology and the proliferation of mobile devices (tablets and smartphones, specifically), Totvs resorted to the Design Thinking method to make its products more “friendly” to these devices.

The company did a survey and tried to listen and get to know its customers better to understand their current problems and needs.

For example, in the case of retail customers, Totvs identified that these companies needed simple software, capable of allowing the seller to accompany the consumer through the store to make the purchase and expedite payment, without requiring the consumer to face the queue. 

After mapping the needs, it was time to organize the ideas. For this, the company used colored post-its and set up a mural. Employees from different sectors of Totvs were also invited to contribute with ideas and suggestions.

This multidisciplinarity and collaborative spirit are also aspects of Design Thinking.

Organized the ideas, Totvs started the Prototyping stage, which consists of creating a prototype of the product, presenting it to the customer, and listening to his suggestions. Then, the necessary changes are made, and a prototype of the final product is presented to the customer.

After approving this latest version, Totvs delivers the product ready to be used, but not fully finished. This is done to observe the customer experience and make the necessary updates, promoting continuous improvement

In the end, Totvs managed, through Design Thinking, to avoid rework and optimize the software production time.

Pre-testing and post-testing products using an automated survey platform is an efficient way to test products and receive feedback before and after launch.

Design Thinking – Natura

Natura, a globally recognized cosmetics company, used Design Thinking in practice to develop new solutions in products and services.

The brand wanted to adopt a light and fun approach to expand and strengthen the relationship with the younger audience.

In this sense, Natura gathered a multidisciplinary team to think of solutions that were relevant to the consumer that the brand wanted to reach.

That is, the entire process was developed to focus on the needs and experience of consumers, all of this collaboratively and innovatively.

Design thinking – GE Healthcare

This is a good example of Design Thinking. GE Healthcare, a multinational image diagnostic conglomerate, hired a designer to develop an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine with playful and childlike aspects to encourage children to undergo the exam. However, the children were terrified of the machine. Most of them had to be sedated to do the resonance or repeat the exam because they were not properly immobile. The designer hired by GE had not taken the users’ experience and emotional aspects into account. He then started thinking about how to create a better product. For that, it used the Design Thinking method. In the Immersion stage, he met with different people to find ways to make the MRI machine less terrifying. Afterward, he talked with several children to better understand their universe and, thus, create an environment that was pleasant for them. As a result, children lost their fear of the machine.

Design Thinking For Small companies

At first, it may seem that design thinking is only for big companies. Still, micro and small companies have applied to have a large and holistic view of the company itself and the solutions to be offered in the market. Using this methodology makes employees feel more important since encouraging team involvement makes the climate healthier. Also, it strengthens the relationship between leader and team member, as the concept of servant leadership is practiced. The company that applies design thinking shares its short and long-term planning with its team. This makes employees feel part of the company when they know the direction of the business. A win-win culture is created for everyone involved, helping to improve results. The benefits of micro and small companies that adopt design thinking are many. One of them is the improvement of communication and the reduction of noise because, by adopting the culture of design thinking, the company develops its steps correctly, says with the participation and collaboration of its employees, and communication starts to be performed efficiently. More than that, another positive effect caused by design thinking is cost reduction, because, instead of calling an external consultant to solve problems, the micro or small company has its team. This cheap and advantageous alternative encourages and brings your employee closer, motivating, and allowing growth. Finally, another reason for a micro or small company to adopt design thinking once and for all is that the company recognizes the real need of its client, so necessary for the formation of lasting relationships.

Design Thinking: An approach to 3D modeling

There are many people working with 3D printing, and many people who want to buy a printer to earn more or have extra income. 

The reality is that 3D printing has become a market fever. Many people want to have one but are not sure what to do with it. Whoever sells the machine says: “just download the models from the Internet”. That time has passed! To earn more from 3D printing and make it profitable, you need to add high value to the printing products. 

To put design thinking into practice in 3D printing, you will need more than downloading ready-made models from the Internet. You will need to know how to model. This is the main tool for adding a lot of value to the product you are modeling.

But how to do this? This is tricky, but it is not a difficult thing.

With the appropriate modeling software, it somewhat allows you to be free to model simple and complex assemblies and, at the same time, have an intuitive interface, so you, your crew and the client be together to get the best result ever and of course, avoid any rework. Can I give you a suggestion? Have you ever tried SolidFace?

SolidFace 3D: A “Design Thinking” modeler software

SolidFace is a free 3D modeling software, very easy to use and grasp. It contains many different features such as 100 million part library, teamwork collaboration space, 2D and 3D assembly module, parametrical assembly module, and much more. It is an attractive tool for you to practice design thinking methodology with your team and the company. Check more features and details here!


In the current global competition scenario, just attending to what the customer already expects from your company and offering commoditized solutions is no longer enough to guarantee business sustainability. It is necessary to go further. Design Thinking helps generate a more holistic view of the customer, challenging the classic Cartesian view that reduces him to a mere consumer and makes the company understand him more deeply and can generate innovations that will have adherence in his market. For all these reasons, using a multidisciplinary, collaborative methodology and focused on making real thoughts and tangible ideas. Design Thinking becomes a great ally of the culture of innovation in organizations. It helps in creating innovative solutions and transforming them into tangible and profitable businesses for companies.


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