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Design Thinking

Go to solution Solved by Meet Maheshwari,

Design Thinking is a problem solving approach that keeps the user at the core. In this approach one first understands the user needs, structure the needs, ideate on possible solutions, creates prototypes followed by testing. Designers usually follow this approach and hence the name, however, design thinking has applicability wherever we have a complex problem to solve.


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Meet Maheshwari on 22nd Jul 2020


Applause for all the respondents - Meet Maheshwari and Alpesh Gorasia


Also review the answer provided by Mr Venugopal R, Benchmark Six Sigma's in-house expert.


Q 281. Design thinking makes use of divergent and convergent thinking. Explain how these two type of thinking are utilized with the help of an example. 


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I'll take the example of designing a new tyre


Now the team has to be creative and add maximum features that they can add into a tyre(Leave constraints of physics, material science, economics etc aside)

For our tyre team can have ideas such as following

1. Colorful tyre for aesthetics

2. Tyre made of fibre for less weight

3. Tyre with spikes for better grip

4. Tyre that can inflate itself etc.

Convergent - once the team is done with divergent thinking start thinking rationally, put constraints such as follows.

1. Will the customers show positive response with color change (can use results of some survey)

2. Will fibre glass infused tyres be safe?

3. Does the terrain requires tyres with spikes?

4. Is the self inflating technology reliable and affordable? Etc.

Thus using divergent followed by convergent technique for designing a product can utilise the maximum creativity of the team as well as hell the team reach to laser point solutions for various customer needs.


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Benchmark Six Sigma Expert View by Venugopal R

Divergent & Convergent Thinking - Definition

During divergent thinking, we look for several potential ideas for a problem or solution and during convergent thinking we tend to focus on a specific idea or solution.

For example, if we want to think about increasing the sales of a product, we would start with a divergent thinking and explore various potential opportunities such as expanding market, adding more product types, improving features, optimizing price, placing more promotional programs and so on. However, once we assess and evaluate all these ideas, we will have to narrow down to one or very few number of ideas based on various facts and factors. This is where convergent thinking happens.


Design Thinking – brief overview

‘Design Thinking’ goes through five phases viz. Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. A quick explanation of each of these phases is as below:

Empathize: During this phase, the customer requirements and expectations are gathered, not just through the voice of customer, but also from what they think, feel, see, hear, say and do. The pains and gains as perceived by customer are also captured. This is a very important aspect of Design Thinking.

Define: The requirements are processed and defined in a structured manner which can be incorporated into the design of the product, process or service, as the case may be.

Ideate: A wide variety of potential solutions are explored, and multiple options are generated. Out of these, the best options for the given situation are narrowed down.

Prototype: Based on chosen solution, a working model of the product, service or process is developed and subjected to actual customer use. This will help in refining the Define and Ideate phases.

Test: By using the prototypes, test out whether the design intent for satisfying customer requirements and expectations is being achieved; use the feedback to improve the prototype.

The above phases do not happen in a linear fashion, but will loop back to previous phases to get refined.


Double Diamond:

There will be very high amount of divergent thinking during the Empathize phase and some Convergent thinking during the Define phase. Once again when we move into Ideate phase, there would be a divergent thinking to come up with alternate design solutions, and by Convergent Thinking, we narrow down on the option for which we create prototype. Thus, the Divergent and Convergent thinking happen in two cycles, often referred to as ‘Double Diamond’



Supply Chain example:

Let’s consider an example – A company wants to reduce their supply chain related costs. Applying just Convergent Thinking might limit yourself to reduce transportation costs and material handling costs.

Whereas if we apply the Design Thinking process, the Empathize phase will pave the way for divergent thinking. Some of the likely aspects that would come out with Divergent Thinking may include:

1.       Better space utilization

2.       Automation of material handling

3.       Streamlining ordering process

4.       Monitoring customer demand

5.       Leaning out the supply chain process

6.       Inventory management

7.       Outsourcing

8.       Relocation of sites

9.       Alternate methods of transportation


Convergent Thinking has to be applied now to narrow down on the priority areas to work upon. Let’s assume that the chosen areas are point nos. 1, 6 and 7.


For each of the chosen points, we will have to apply Divergent Thinking to identify the potential factors that need to be addressed. After this, we move to Convergent Thinking to shortlist the solutions and finalize the set of actions.

Apart from Design thinking, Divergent and Convergent Thinking are used in many situations, for instance during the DMAIC cycle for a Six Sigma project. Both these types of thinking are important and often go hand-in-hand.

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Design thinking mainly uses of divergent thinking and convergent thinking for problem solution and idea generation.


Divergent thinking  refers to a strategy to generate proposal for multiples possible solutions in attempt to  identify that one can work.It is possible only when multiple ideas are evaluated. Brainstorming and free flow writing are two processes that involves divergent thinking.

Making list of questions, mapping out a subject, artwork creation are some of examples of divergent thinking.


Convergent thinking refers to technique for problem solving in which different ideas from different peoples bringing together to identify a single best solution against a defined problem.

Multiple choice questions, pattern identification, Quizzes are some of examples of convergent thinking.



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Meet Maheshwari has provided the best answer to this question by providing an example for divergent and convergent thinking.


Also review the answer provided by Mr Venugopal R, Benchmark Six Sigma's in-house expert. 

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