Design thinking is a socially conscious approach that demands tech savviness but also calls on the humanity of the designer. In the case of Google Glass, a simple, intuitive assessment of the cultural moment may have revealed the culprits of Glass’s eventual downfall. Students of all ages who are engaged in design thinking could have told us: It’s kind of creepy. It’s dorky. We have to wear a computer on our faces?
The relevance of Design Thinking as research method for Business Design is based on two very important aspects of the method. First of all, Design Thinking introduces "Empathy" into the equation. Empathy is the ability of the entrepreneur to see things through the eyes of the customer. Secondly, Design Thinking introduces "Creativity" into the equation. It is not enough that you can analyse the problem, you should also be able to come up with a solution to that problem and actually test the acceptance by your customers of that solution.

A great morning spent @Google London, focussing on ‘Design Sprints for Change’. 400 applications for the event, 100 in the room – it is a movement. It was fascinating to see how other big and small businesses are employing the same approach as RGAX to help their business grow by helping others. It was also nice to reconnect with John Vetan and Dana Vetan @designsprintacademy who showed us the way to identify real problems worth solving and create solutions you can test – all in 5 days!


Design for a light-touch, full-product experience. Ask yourself: What’s the smallest set of features you can design that will still solve users’ problems? Start with the simplest version of your product, get user feedback, and then add features. As your sprint loops continue, you can move from simple prototypes to robust product directions. With Swell, we focused on creating a hero page for each key interaction (landing page, sign up, and invest). This meant we were testing the functionality of the full product experience, just in a light-touch way.
This is Chapter 1 from “Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products,” by Richard Banfield, C Todd Lombardo, and Trace Wax. Design Sprint was just recently named one of the 100 Best Product Design Books of All Time by The Book Authority (#8 for those who are counting!). NOTE: I have included links to additional, related Design Sprint resources within the post that are not part of the book chapter. These resources are denoted by a “- — -” divider.

Prototype only what you need to validate your ideas in a very short time; hammer out a realistic prototype, a facade of the experience you have envisioned in the sketch phase. Design a barest minimum but usable prototype, taking advantage for instance of of Pop App, an app that transforms pictures of a story board into clickable UI; think of your prototype as an experiment in order to test out hypothesis;
“Design thinking taps into capacities we all have but that are overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. It is not only human-centered; it is deeply human in and of itself. Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. Nobody wants to run a business based on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an overreliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as dangerous. The integrated approach at the core of the design process suggests a ‘third way.’ “
It’s often difficult for us humans to challenge our assumptions and everyday knowledge, because we rely on building patterns of thinking in order to not have to learn everything from scratch every time. We rely on doing everyday processes more or less unconsciously — for example, when we get up in the morning, eat, walk, and read — but also when we assess challenges at work and in our private lives. In particular, experts and specialists rely on their solid thought patterns, and it can be very challenging and difficult for experts to start questioning their knowledge.
In addition to encouraging curiosity and asking more questions, one tactic we use at IDEO to help companies evolve their culture to be more creative is what we call beacon projects—projects designed for teams to be able to break the norms of the organization. The role of these beacon projects is to challenge tightly held assumptions and processes and illustrate that new behavior is necessary to innovate. When teams or companies are deep in their industry, seeing and experiencing change will often increase their awareness to opportunities.

Curious about what makes a successful, innovative team, Google led a two-year research project with 280 teams. They found only one distinction between innovative and non-innovative teams—psychological safety. A team that has psychological safety is a team where people feel safe trying new things, openly sharing ideas, and bringing their full selves to work.


By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all—you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and weave them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.
We can connect you to organizations who can run a full 5 day design sprint with you. We can also train you and introduce you to the key activities of the design sprint in our training workshops so you can get started on your own. We can also focus on shorter approaches to generating and developing ideas for and with your customers using the philosophy behind design sprints as well as design thinking, lean startup, agile, scrum, and the front end of innovation. https://res.cloudinary.com/practicaldev/image/fetch/s--M5agzuGU--/c_imagga_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,h_100,q_auto,w_100/https://thepracticaldev.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/user/profile_image/119031/08546e06-e482-4dc1-a1fc-8d2be828e522.jpg
Another important criterion is the expertise of the trainers, both into the subject as well as in training and facilitating teams and individuals. As mentioned before, some providers have build experience by applying the framework themselves, while building digital products. Others have a background as trainers (for example in Agile, Scrum or Design Thinking) and added Design Sprint training to their curriculum.
“For most organizations, doing some prototypes and a small beta test would be a good example of Design Thinking, but for a company with the heft of Google, they can absolutely afford to ‘launch’ something and see how it does without putting themselves at risk,” Rose wrote. “The amount of info that they learned from developing and launching it was incredible.”
Braden Kowitz added story-centered design, an approach that focuses on the user instead of features or technologies. Michael Margolis took customer research—which can typically take weeks to plan and often delivers confusing results—and figured out a way to get crystal clear results in just one day. John Zeratsky brought a focus on measuring results with the key metrics from each business. And Daniel Burka brought firsthand expertise as an entrepreneur to ensure every step made sense for startups.

Couldn’t have said it better than the big man himself. As Tim says, Design Thinking is an approach to innovation that draws from a toolkit. This toolkit is vast and full of numerous exercises that can be pulled out at different points in the design process. Learning about Design Thinking is learning the philosophy and mindset of innovation along with the tools you could use to make your way there. Here’s everything you really need to know about Design Thinking.


Another important criterion is the expertise of the trainers, both into the subject as well as in training and facilitating teams and individuals. As mentioned before, some providers have build experience by applying the framework themselves, while building digital products. Others have a background as trainers (for example in Agile, Scrum or Design Thinking) and added Design Sprint training to their curriculum.

Are you looking for a way to introduce your team or organization to design thinking or this approach of a design sprint? Contact Darin at [email protected] for a design sprint training workshop to help your team gain awareness and hands on experience with this powerful approach to solve customer problems and design new products, services, and programs. We can also refer you to others who can help you with either learning for the first time or conducting your own design sprint.
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