Design Thinking - We Are All Designers!

This blog is an accompanying article to the Charter Engage: Know IT podcast, titled "Design Thinking - We Are All Designers!"

Incorporating design thinking in our work lets us design and craft innovation, as a catalyst to growth. 

Consider using design thinking as a regular process to assist with organizational growth.

Every business wants its employees to innovate and have a deep understanding of its customer’s needs. The reality is 70 -80% of work is often operational or tactical with a “keep the lights on” inward-looking focus. There is a great opportunity for all businesses and employees to shift to being innovative designers with an outward-looking, customer-centric focus.

So, ask yourself:

• How might I gain a deeper understanding of customers and their needs?

• How might I better serve my business and my customers?

• How might I provide new products or services for my customers?

• How might I have more empathy for my customers?

In this blog, we will explore how we can all be designers by using design thinking in our work. Design thinking frameworks have been around since 1985 and are used by hundreds of companies and enterprises. Some examples include Apple, Cisco, GE Healthcare, Proctor & Gamble, Ford, Facebook, the US Military, Airbnb, Intuit, and IDEO.

Design thinking involves utilization of 5 phases, from start to execution.

Design thinking is a human-centered design approach for problem-solving and innovation that emphasizes empathy, creativity, and iterative prototyping. At its core, design thinking is a way of thinking and working that helps individuals and teams to be more innovative and effective in creating solutions to complex problems.

There are 5 phases in the framework:

i) empathize,

ii) define,

iii) ideate,

iv) prototype, and

v) test.

Phase 1: Empathize
A Journey Map articulates the typical “day-in-the-life” journey of one of your workers. [Click to enlarge.]

The first phase in Design thinking is to empathize with the people who are experiencing the problem you are trying to solve. This involves putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their perspective, by taking the time to listen to others and understand their needs and wants.

Create personas for your customers. Even better, ask you customers if you can spend a day with them as they do their work. As you observe their work processes, take pictures and notes that you can compile into a “Day-in-the-Life” journey map.

Phase 2: Define
Clearly identifying goals and objectives helps in defining the problem.

The second phase in design thinking is to define the problem. This involves clearly articulating what the problem is and what you are trying to achieve, along with clearly identifying the goals and objectives. In this phase, write an Opportunity statement and Problems to be Solved statement. Craft some “How Might We” statements.

Phase 3: Ideate
The Fishbone diagram helps to identify and organize problems & their potential solutions. [Click to enlarge.]

The third phase in design thinking is to ideate. This involves generating a wide range of possible solutions to the problem. Include a diverse group for the Ideation workshop. (The ideal group size is usually 5 – 7 participants.)

As designers, we can use this step by being open to new ideas and thinking creatively. By brainstorming and generating a wide range of possible options, we can increase the likelihood of finding a solution that works.

Remember, in this phase, there are no bad ideas. The goal is to get as many ideas as possible and one idea will lead to another and another that, in the end, leads to that “one great idea.” A cause-and-effect diagram, often called a “fishbone” diagram, can help in brainstorming to identify possible causes of a problem and in sorting ideas into useful categories.

Phase 4: Prototype
A prototype can assist with solution testing in the field.

The fourth phase in design thinking is to prototype. This involves creating a rough, low-fidelity version of the solution and testing it with users.

As designers, we can use this phase to experiment and test our ideas. By creating prototypes and testing them with others, we can get feedback and refine our ideas until we find a solution that works. The idea is to be agile, fail fast, and learn faster.

Phase 5: Test
Gathering feedback can be instrumental in improving our solutions.

The final phase in design thinking is to test. This involves testing the prototype with users and evaluating its effectiveness.

As designers, we can use this phase to evaluate the effectiveness of our solutions and make adjusting as needed. By being open to feedback and willing to make changes, we can improve our solutions and ensure that they are more effective.

In conclusion, design thinking is a powerful approach to problem solving that can help us all to be more innovative and effective in our work. By empathizing with others, defining our goals, ideating, prototyping, and testing our solutions, we can all be designers and create remedies that work.

How can Charter help?

We invite you to call us to discuss Design Thinking and what Charter can do to help you achieve your business goals.

Contact Information:

General Inquiries:

(800) 349-4491 |

Service and Support:

(866) 427-1979 |

For more specific information on design thinking, please contact Wade Crick (

About the author

Wade Crick
Principal Business Architect

As the Principal Business Architect for Charter, Wade is responsible for leading the business architecture practice and enabling digital transformation for Charter and its customers. Wade combines his knowledge of technology, industry, and business trends to accelerate digital innovation for the Energy, Resources, and Industrial Markets.  

Wade has four decades of experience with IT hardware, software, programming, consulting, operations, and design. Prior to joining Charter, he held positions at Cisco, PCL Construction, Bay Networks/Nortel, SHL Systemhouse, and Digital Equipment Corporation. A lifelong learner, Wade is a certified Enterprise Architect, and Business Architect and recently completed his certification in Industry 4.0: How to Revolutionize your Business.