Design Thinking 101: Why empathy and creativity still matter in the age of AI
profile picture Sangeet Senan
6 min read Apr 4, 2023

Design Thinking 101: Why empathy and creativity still matter in the age of AI

Design Thinking has been around for quite some time, and yet it remains one of the most fundamental problem-solving philosophies that is often overlooked by product builders. It is common to see good products to fail, despite their best intentions. Products may be well-designed, well-marketed, and of high quality, but if it’s not addressing a real need or problem that consumers are facing, it is unlikely to succeed.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is an iterative and non-linear problem-solving approach. Its goal is to identify the root cause of a problem, redefine the problem statement, challenge assumptions, explore multiple possibilities, and create valuable solutions. Design thinking is a philosophy which involves engaging with users and stakeholders to gain insights and empathy for their perspectives. At its core, it is a human-centered approach that empathizes with the users who are impacted by the problem. It explores technical possibilities and business goals, and uses that understanding to design solutions which addresses unique needs.

Applying Design Thinking philosophy


To implement design thinking, there are many frameworks available that can be utilized. However, every framework follows similar principles to solve complex problems.

  • Start with some assumptions: To better understand the given problem, it is helpful to make a set of assumptions. These assumptions can serve as a starting point for developing a solution. However, it is important to keep in mind that these assumptions should be based on available information.
  • Understand the end user: To develop a more effective solution to a problem, it is important to understand the intention behind solving the problem. This includes identifying the target audience and gaining a deeper understanding of their emotions, pain-points, motivations, and drivers of behavior. By doing so, you can develop a more targeted and relevant approach to address their needs and concerns.
  • Challenge the original assumptions: While assumptions can provide a framework for analysis and decision-making, they are not always accurate. Relying solely on assumptions when developing a solution can lead to unanticipated issues or unexpected results. After conducting thorough research, challenge the initial assumptions and refine the problem statement. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of the issue at hand and potentially uncover new insights
  • Redefine the problem statement: This is a crucial step. Based on your understanding of the needs and preferences of your target users, you identify the core problem and redefine the problem statement. This process helps you clarify the ultimate goal of your product and align it with the users’ expectations, which is essential for achieving user satisfaction and business success.
  • Identify possible solutions: Having redefined the problem statement, explore various potential solutions. The idea is to stay focused on the specific issue at hand. It’s essential to use the identified problem statement as a guide throughout the entire process. By doing so, you can ensure that you remain focused on the core issue and avoid getting sidetracked by unrelated problems. Keeping the problem statement as a reference point helps you stay on track and prioritize what truly matters. This approach can lead you to find a successful solution and help you know when to stop.
  • Develop the ideal solution: Out of the potential solutions that have been identified, it’s important to prioritize the one that addresses the majority of the pain points. This solution should be the minimum-viable product. During this process, it’s crucial to prioritize the most critical aspects of the solution and avoid getting sidetracked by additional features or enhancements. By focusing on the core elements of the solution, you can develop a product that meets the basic needs of your target audience and gain valuable feedback for future iterations.
  • Prototype and test: Develop a working prototype of the solution. This gives us a chance to test and validate the solution in a real-world setting. By doing so, we can identify any potential issues or areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to the solution accordingly. This approach provides us with an opportunity to course-correct and fine-tune the solution before it is fully implemented.
  • Enhancements and reiteration: Challenge the developed MVP by gathering feedback from target users and identifying any obvious shortcomings. Feedback is a valuable source of information that can provide insight into the bigger picture of a problem. By gathering feedback from stakeholders and users, you can identify potential areas for improvement and gain a deeper understanding of their needs and perspectives. Use this feedback to improve the MVP and ensure that it meets the needs and expectations of the intended audience. Reiterate the process of discovery, problem redefinition and develop new ideas that address the issues raised by stakeholders. You cannot find the right solution for complex problems, but you can get closer to it.

How does it matter?

When the true need of the user is clearly understood, it becomes easier to identify what is essential and build a product that can deliver the right solution to the problem. By utilizing design thinking, we can avoid inefficient discovery of possible solutions and focus on the one ideal solution that best addresses the user’s needs.

With the abundance of AI-driven tools available today, one might question the relevance of design thinking. However, despite the growing capabilities of AI, design thinking remains a valuable tool to solve complex problems. While AI can process data quickly and accurately, it lacks the emotional intelligence and understanding of human behavior that is crucial to design products that meet people’s needs and desires.

Design thinking is a philosophy which helps you to understand the core problem before building a solution. It is a process of acquiring knowledge about the problem while working towards the solution. It is often used in fields such as product design, user experience (UX) design, and service design, but it can be applied to any situation where a creative, user-centered approach is needed. Note that design thinking is a problem-solving approach which can be used in different scenarios, and not limited to designers or building a product.

At AntStack Design, we use the power of design thinking to create exceptional products for our clients and end-users. Our philosophy puts people at the center of our design process, allowing us to develop solutions that address real-world problems and drive business success.

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