Design Thinking: Define – Framing Problems for Effective Solutions

Have you ever found yourself struggling to find the right solution? Perhaps the reason lies in not fully understanding the problem that needs to be solved. This is where “define” comes into play. In this article, we will explore the importance of the “define” phase in the design thinking process. By framing the problem systematically and accurately, we can pave the way for effective solutions that address the real needs of customers. Let’s dive in!

The Role of Define in Design Thinking

The “define” phase is a crucial step in the design thinking process. It involves clearly defining the problem statement and gaining a deep understanding of the needs and desires of the end-users. By investing time in this phase, we set ourselves up for success by ensuring that we are addressing the right problem and providing meaningful solutions.

Framing the Problem Systematically

To effectively define the problem, we need to approach it systematically. Here are some key techniques and tools used in the “define” phase of design thinking:

1. Empathy and User Research

Understanding the perspective of the users is essential. Conducting user research, such as interviews and observations, allows us to gain insights into their experiences, pain points, and aspirations. By empathizing with the users, we can uncover hidden needs and define the problem in a way that resonates with their reality.

2. Point of View (POV) Tools

POV tools help us reframe the problem from the user’s perspective. They enable us to identify the underlying needs, motivations, and aspirations of the users. By formulating a clear and concise problem statement based on these insights, we ensure that our solutions directly address the core issues.

3. Collaborative Workshops and Brainstorming

Engaging a diverse group of stakeholders in collaborative workshops and brainstorming sessions can generate a rich pool of ideas and perspectives. By involving team members with different backgrounds and expertise, we can collectively define the problem and explore innovative solutions.

Benefits of Effective Problem Definition

By investing time and effort in the “define” phase of design thinking, we unlock several benefits:

1. Accurate Problem Framing

Defining the problem accurately ensures that our efforts are directed towards solving the real challenges faced by users. It prevents us from wasting resources on superficial or irrelevant solutions.

2. Targeted Solution Development

Clear problem definition guides the development of targeted solutions. By understanding the needs and desires of the users, we can design solutions that are tailored to their specific requirements, increasing the likelihood of success.

3. User-Centric Approach

The “define” phase reinforces a user-centric approach to problem-solving. It reminds us to prioritize the needs of the users, resulting in solutions that are meaningful, relevant, and impactful.


The “define” phase in design thinking is an essential step in the journey towards effective problem-solving. By systematically framing the problem, understanding the users, and formulating a clear problem statement, we lay the foundation for innovative and impactful solutions. So, let’s embrace the power of “define” and unlock new possibilities in our design thinking process!