Tackle your undefined problems with these 5 Key Stages in the Design Thinking Process
Dr. Agus Setiawan

PhD Graduate and result-oriented Director with 25 years experience with involvement in all levels of Business Strategy, Sales and Marketing, Managing Project and Product Development. Aside of managing a company, he is also the best corporate trainer and public speaker in seminar and conference.

Tackle your undefined problems with these 5 Key Stages in the Design Thinking Process

Design thinking is helpful when it comes to enhancing an organization’s digital transformation. It helps to tackle complex and undefined problems by using a more flexible approach that enables businesses to interact with customers and coming up with solutions. Design thinking is user-centric, it has five stages proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford ( that examine both present and future details of a problem while exploring alternate solutions, namely.


The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process such as Design Thinking, and empathy allows design thinkers to set aside their own assumptions in order to gain insight into users and their needs.


During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathise stage. This is where you will analyse your observations and synthesise them in order to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point. The Define stage will help the designers in your team gather great ideas to establish features, functions, and any other elements that will allow them to solve the problems.


During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs in the Empathise stage, and you’ve analysed and synthesised your observations in the Define stage. This is the brainstorming phase where you should bring together collective minds in a group to develop many creative ideas. This phase should be quick and creative as well as collaborative.


During the prototype stage, the team experiments with a number of inexpensive and simple models that are aimed to test and validate your solution ideas in a time sensitive way. Prototypes should be tested on a small number of users with either usability testing or a small selection of visitors to your site. Take note of how users interact with the prototype and collect feedback to use to adjust and optimize your next model.


Designers or evaluators rigorously test the complete product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage of the 5 stage-model, but in an iterative process, the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users.


Understanding these key stages in design thinking process will be beneficial for employee to tackle problems, and allowing businesses to keep running in this world of ever-evolving digital transformation. This could also enhance overall organizational efficiency and productivity.

Müller-Roterberg, Christian. (2018). Handbook of Design Thinking.
5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process. (2021). Retrieved 2 September 2021, from

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