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The concept envisages creating new solutions to solve social problems that have festered for ages. One particular way that has emerged in the past few years and is being used to solve social problems is Design Thinking. It allows people to approach different social problems and solve them by using an amalgamation of different forms of reasoning. Design thinking allows stakeholders from different backgrounds to come together and solve problems using a human-centered approach. It is considered to be a framework that involves the integration of artistic and logical modes of reasoning and the use of different creative tools and techniques to solve complex problems. Design thinking is a process to find the solution to complex issues, navigate new or uncertain environments, and create a new product for the world. Design thinking uses core elements and skills of play, empathy, reflection, creation, and experimentation to collaborate, create, and build upon findings. Given that both social innovation and design thinking are emerging fields, there is a dearth of studies related to the application of design thinking to solve problems about social innovation. Since both are emerging fields, there is a need for the identification of areas related to these fields where research can be done. This sets out to grow the boundaries of knowledge related to design thinking and social innovation and investigates the current state of research on design thinking and social innovation.

Design thinking involves co-creating services or products in continuous discussion and consultation with the eventual users. The analysis of design aims at dividing the problem into parts, then rearranging the parts into a different arrangement, and then testing the consequences of the new way of arrangement. Social innovations are described as emergent solutions consisting of services, products, models, processes, markets, etc, that concurrently meet a community’s needs more effectively than previous solutions, which consequently leads to better use of resources and assets and improved relationships and capabilities. In simpler words, social innovations enhance society’s capacity to act and are beneficial to society. It has been argued that using a traditional approach to analyzing a problem such as through surveys, discussions, focus groups, and interviews does not necessarily yield desired and systematic results. An unstable economy and consistent political unrest call for community support other than state agencies as well. Therefore, development in design for social innovation has a scope that needs more research. Advancement of the sector is done through social entrepreneurship which implies a variety of innovative methods and approaches to provide a platform for solving issues and filling the distance gap.


Sustainable-oriented innovations (SOI) are defined as the creation of products and services aiming at environmental and social benefits. There are four key challenges posed to SOI that include

  • Innovation scope
  • User needs and behaviors
  • Stakeholder involvement
  • Assurance of positive sustainability effects

The Principles include

  • Problem idea framing
  • User focus
  • Diversity
  • Visualization and experimentation
  • Iteration

The first principle, idea framing, involves zooming out of the context to have a holistic view of the problem. It helps to understand the complex problems of sustainability. Design thinking helps to discover new alternatives for fulfilling users’ needs by growing the problem frame. User needs are also a challenge when it comes to providing sustainable alternatives. Design thinking helps in identifying users’ needs and their importance in regard to social and environmental issues. Design thinking employs different methods like ethnography including observations and interactions with users in their natural setting to identify core needs that they might not be able to understand due to their complexity. Design thinking employs a collaborative approach to engaging stakeholders as designers for SOI development. This stems from the idea that everyone being affected by the issue of sustainability should express their concerns. Also, design thinking through this highlights that diverse viewpoints and disparate skills are an important source and will lead to better innovation. The fourth challenge which is the assurance of sustainability is addressed by design thinking as it employs “experimentation and iteration” methods. This method allows the team to quickly test different SOI solutions. This is usually done via low-cost prototypes which can be quickly produced. For that, one of the most useful approaches is being used in Design thinking. It was found that earning journals, self-reflection, and learning logs can be used to assess the journey of students.

For example, instead of marking one final project, the students can be asked to document their entire journey, and that recording can be judged or assessed. Design thinking can also be used to connect classes with the other world. Design thinking tools can be used for connections beyond classrooms. Community groups and virtual libraries should be included to enhance discussions in the classrooms. Course material should be designed in a way that inculcates design thinking approaches. Design thinking can be used as a tool to include interdisciplinary learning. In today’s world, businesses are more aware than ever. They are keen on making a positive impact on the planet. Therefore the businesses that are more socially, culturally, and environmentally sustainable, are considered the best to thrive in today’s economy. In achieving this, design thinking for social innovation is considered a viable option. One of the studies aimed at studying the contribution of the design thinking approach for social innovation sustaining in small ventures.


Sparrows by morning, live in peaceful nests! Design shouldn’t dominate things, shouldn’t dominate people. It should help people. Don’t spend your time solving your favorite problems, solve problems that need to be solved, generically. A home is a place where you live, and society is a place where your story begins. Honesty shares honesty, as it is honesty’s nature. Stay always in Ablution and get back to the trust you have been, with.

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