Design Thinking

Innovation is the cornerstone of Waterloo Region. Characterized by our start-up culture, Waterloo's tech sector is in constant motion and change, with companies small and large finding new ways to work, build, and create.

As the settling ground of great minds, Waterloo is recognized for its broad spectrum of knowledge and rich mathematical/ technology heritage. These elements, brought together, have brought the world the Fortran compiler, the BlackBerry, the Perimeter Institute, and Christie's micro tiles, among other innovations.

Design thinking is a conceptualization process popular within Silicon Valley that it is now taking root here in Waterloo.

The key to design thinking: no barriers.

A highly collaborative, empathetic, and intuitive problem-solving approach, design thinking is based on finding innovative solutions by understanding others through observation, and by building off the ideas of people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. It requires looking through the eyes of the end user to discover new opportunities and solve problems.

The concept is not new. It was design thinking that allowed Thomas Edison to first light up the world. Envisioning a society based upon his creation, Edison was able to go beyond the usual solution-based philosophy to approach innovation with a more human-centered way of thinking. By imagining the ways people might want to use his inventions, and building upon that vision, Edison was able to create breakthrough technology advancements.

This issue of WATCH features stories of how design thinking is finding a home among students at the University of Waterloo; and among the synergetic workplaces within the David Johnston Research + Technology Park; and the innovative solutions being developed behind a start-up's doors. Visit with Waterloo's Dean of Mathematics. Read about SAP's WatHaus where teams come together to use design thinking to bring down barriers and develop innovative apps. And learn how tech start-up Sweet Tooth is creating new ways for merchants to make customers happy.

For a full listing of R+T Park companies, visit:

Watch David Kelley - founder of one of the world's most successful design firms IDEO based in Silicon Valley - put these principles into practise creating some of the most iconic products.

Link to ABC video