No common definition of design thinking (DT) exists, but the definition that informs this capstone is one offered by Professor Nancy Roberts of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA: DT is “a cross-disciplinary, human-centered, collaborative process for the purpose of creating designs—new products, processes, services, strategies, organizations, and systems.”34 As the Stanford d.school elaborates,
DT is a “methodology for innovation that combines creative and analytical approaches, and requires collaboration across disciplines,” and that DT “draws on methods from engineering and design, and combines them with ideas from the arts, tools from social sciences, and insights from the business world.”35
DT was selected to guide this capstone project due to its focus on human-centered design that searches for solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable. By starting with humans and their hopes, fears, and needs, one can discover what is most desirable. Then the question becomes what is technically feasible to implement and what is financially viable in the long term.36 These three lenses of human desirability, technological feasibility, and
32 Ibid., 6.
33 Innovation is the adoption of a new practice in a community as defined in Peter J. Denning and Robert Dunham, The Innovator’s Way: Essential Practices for Successful Innovation (London: The MIT Press, 2010), 6.
34 Nancy Roberts, “Strategic Design” (lecture, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, February 25, 2016).
35 d.school, “Our Point of View: Our Way of Working,” last modified April 25, 2016, http://dschool.stanford.edu/our-point-of-view/.
financial viability, as seen in Figure 6, represent the initial constraints that are visualized as three overlapping criteria for turning successful ideas into design solutions.37
Figure 6. Stanford d.school Human-Centered Design38
All of these elements must be carefully balanced to develop design solutions that are successful and sustainable.39
The five-phase model of DT, as seen in Figure 7, was developed and continues to evolve at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school), which was founded in 2005 by David Kelley.40
37 Ibid.; Tim Brown, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation (New York: Harper Collins, 2009), 18.
38 d.school, “Our Point of View.”
39 Ideo.org, The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design, 14; Brown, Change by Design, 18.
40 Literature on Design as a culture of inquiry and design thinking is evolving and an overview of this literature can be found in Appendix B.
Figure 7. The Design Thinking Process I41
1. The Design Challenge
A design challenge launches the DT process. The designer, working with a sponsor or client, decides on an issue, question, or problem of interest. In this instance, the design challenge is how the PR system could be designed or redesigned to enable Norwegian commanders, staff, forces, and isolated personnel to operate in a Combined Joint PR mission environment.
2. Discovery Phase
The discovery phase initiates the design thinking process. The intent of discovery explores the military, economic, political, and social context in which the design challenge resides, with an emphasis on the stakeholders who are part of the PR system. This phase constitutes the cornerstone of the human-centered design process.42 The
objective is to “understand the way they [people] do things and why, their physical and emotional needs, how they think about their world, and what is meaningful to them.”.43
There are numerous ways to make sense of and learn about the context and the specific design challenge: examination of archival records, observations of people in their
41 Stanford d.school’s design thinking process, as modified by Nancy Roberts. Nancy Roberts, “The Design Thinking Process” (PowerPoint presentation, Design Thinking course, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, 2014).
42 See section on Empathy in d.school, “The Design Process Mini-Guide,” d.school, August 2, 2012,
https://dschool.stanford.edu/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/Design_Process_MiniGuide.html. 43 See section on Empathy in d.school, “Design Process Mini-Guide.”
design environment, and discussions with the key stakeholders. The goal of the discovery phase is to observe, listen to, and learn from the people involved in the PR system to understand their perspectives and to gain a deep understanding of their experiences.
3. Problem Definition Phase
The define phase of the design process reframes the design challenge based on the synthesis of the various findings from the empathy work in the discovery phase. Based on the insights gained, the define phase brings focus and clarity to the collected data, observations, and discussions, and identifies a key issue or problem the design team will leverage in ideation.44
4. Ideation Phase
The ideate phase of the design process generates new ideas. By launching brainstorming sessions with “how might we” questions, the objective is to encourage new and different ideas to address the problem or issue identified in the define phase. The underlying premise is that participants defer judgment by separating idea generation from the evaluation of ideas. From brainstorming, one moves to assessment where the design team selects some of the best ideas to go forward into the prototyping phase.45
5. Prototyping Phase
The design team launches this phase by selecting one idea they believe merits prototyping. The prototyping phase can range from making simple physical models of a new product to a storyboard for a process or an operation or a simple “rock drill” or a simulation. The idea is to make it quick, cheap, and rough, so that if it fails, one can fail early and fail often to learn faster.46 The prototypes for this capstone have been
developed in the form of a storyboard that visualizes a possible future PR journey for the main stakeholders within the Norwegian PR system and how these stakeholders will act
44 See section on Define in d.school, “Design Process Mini-Guide.” 45 See section on Ideation in d.school, “Design Process Mini-Guide.”
46 The concept of cheap and rough prototypes lowers the cost of failure and provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes early in the process and to change direction before the consequences and commitments become too big and costly.
and function within that framework for the preparation, planning, execution and adaptation phase.
6. Testing Phase
The last step in the DT process is testing. The goal is to get stakeholder feedback quickly to find any flaws in the prototype and then, just as quickly, come up with new ideas to correct or further develop the prototype. Based on user feedback, the design team will be able to find out what works, what can be improved, what additional questions users have, even some new ideas they may generate. Testing is one more chance to understand the user’s need and often offer new unexpected insights.47
The Norwegian design team will “test” the future Norwegian PR system prototype with identified key stakeholders in the different service branches to gain insights and feedback on the desirability, feasibility, and viability of the suggested prototype. This will be an iterative process that seeks to improve the prototype. The idea will be further developed to design a new prototype that will be sustainable with the restraint and constraints of a small nation’s armed forces.