'Design Thinking' defined

Defining 'design thinking' is difficult because it's full of hype and everyone claims to be doing it. Since it means everything-that-designers-do-today, it basically means nothing. It's generally agreed that it's an interventionist approach (i.e., generative and concerned with improving something) and systems driven. It's a way to move into and potentially through wicked problems.

Here's a definition: 'Design thinking is its own mode of analysis – one that focuses on forms, relationships, behavior and real human interactions and emotions.' - Idris Mootee

From Mootee's 2013 book (this excerpt is probably all you need), here's a list of answers design thinking can address:

  1. How a product, service, system or business currently lives in an ecosystem.
  2. How people interact with the above and the nature, frequency and attributes of that interaction
  3. How the different elements in the ecosystem relate to one another and if any systems-level impact exists.
  4. What other ecosystems exist adjacent to your ecosystem.
  5. How new insights may be gained by looking broadly at communicative events within these ecosystems and how they fit together from a systems perspective.
  6. What the key characteristics and patterns of behavior of new relationships are when viewed from a systems level.
  7. What the patterns of people’s information behaviors are and how to map them visually to make sense of them. [this last one seems very specifically built around a certain kind of design thinking domain, e.g., a web application]