Give your own Design Thinking workshop within one hour through the 7 steps of Design Thinking

Design Thinking is an innovation tool that can be used in any marketing and/or research and development department. If your company needs to become innovative or more innovative than your competition then Design Thinking is an extremely valuable process. It transforms old established innovation processes into new creative and valuable ones. Centered around Design Thinking are the 3Ps: People, Place, Process. People stands for having diversity in the team, with place creativity in the room and with process it is meant to have interconnectivity throughout the 7 steps of Design Thinking. This blog post focuses on the 7 steps of Design Thinking and provides a step by step guide which enable to give your own Design Thinking workshop within one hour. This shortened process uses an adoption of the Design Thinking methodology of the Institute of Design at Stanford (Institute of Design at Stanford, 2015).

First, empathize

The facilitator splits a team up into single interviewers and lets them individually interview a target group, for example wallet owners. Choose one person among your team as your partner and interview him for 5 minutes and then let your parter interview you for the same amount of time. In this step you need to find out the wants and needs, desires and obstacles of the wallet. Ask relevant questions related to the product or service of your choice – in this case it is about the wallet. Use the Five Ws, Five Ws and one H or the Six Ws, which provides the basics for gathering information.

Second, observe

After the interview is completed you should proceed to the next step and observe your target group consuming or using the product or service. Try asking yourself or your partner the 5 Whys to gain better insights on why your target group or partner is consuming or using the product or service. For becoming acquainted with the process, 5 minutes per observer are sufficient.

Third, define

Once you empathized and observed you need to define the purpose of the product or service for your target group or partner. Try to understand what the positive feelings and motivations are and the negative feelings are when your target group or partner is experiencing the product or service. Record your findings. For this step 5 minutes are sufficient.

Fourth, ideate

Now that you defined the wants and needs, desires and obstacles, purpose, feelings and motivations of the product or service, the whole team assembles together and each team member presents his or her findings. The presentation of findings should not last longer than 5 minutes. Then, develop as many alternative ideas that incorporate the findings of each individual team member. Build on the ideas of other team members. For example, the finding of one team member could be that the form of the wallet is not important to the target group and your finding is that a metal wallet would generally not be objected by the target group. Now, you can build on his or her idea and develop the first prototype: a rectangular metal wallet. Develop up to 5 different concepts but do not spend more than 5 minutes on this task. Remember, this is a brainstorm activity and therefore: A. Be visual and present ideas through a mind map or a sketch B. Be a good listener and let the other member speak out C. Be encouraging about wild ideas D. Do not judge or start a debate E. Do not restrict the number of ideas and go for quantity not quality F. Be focused and relate to the findings.

Fifth, examine

Split up the team and assemble yourself with the original target group or partner. Examine your concepts by presenting them in form of a mind map or sketch and gather feedback for them. Figure out what worked, what did not work, what questions were asked and what statements were given. For becoming acquainted with this step, 5 minutes per examiner are sufficient.

Sixth, prototype

Once feedback is gathered, the team assembles together and will develop one single concept into a prototype that incorporates all relevant feedback, that is the point when creativity is demanded. Follow two steps: 1. Design a sketch and 2. Create a prototype based on the sketch. Do not spend more than 10 minutes for sketching and creating the prototype. A creative room with material to tinker is recommended.

Seventh, iterate

Once the prototype is created it will be presented to the original target group or partner and one iterates, in other words repeats, step five to six until the final prototype is created. That prototype will then be developed into a minimal viable product (MVP) or service and then test marketed before determining whether it should be launched.

The Design Thinking process is an innovation tool that is centered around the target group. Based on the wants and needs, desires and obstacles, purpose, feelings and motivations of the target group a product or service will be developed that is truly relevant and truly focused on adding value.


Institute of Design at Stanford (2015). Welcome to the Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift/

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