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Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6167 voice


Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that focuses on the best practices at the beginning of the product development process: innovation and ideation. We combine empathy (i.e., putting yourself in another's shoes), radical collaboration (a partnership between diverse creators and consumers), creativity and rationality to find and meet consumers' needs. Unlike analytical thinking (the separation of a whole into its parts), design thinking is an integrative process that combines ideas from many sources into new innovations. Design thinking also develops an ability to see the world around you differently from the way most people see it. This "seeing differently" is the way we think innovators spot where improvements can be made, and the way they imagine and refine products that improve consumers' lives.