Design Thinking

as a toolkit for innovation

What is it and why is it so effective?

Design thinking is an iterative process with a cycle full of creativity, fun and improvement.
It is a way of thinking and working while using human-centered techniques to solve problems in an innovative way. It's about putting people first and making things better in our business.

Being creative and thinking outside the box

Whether you are a designer or not, I am pretty sure you have heard someone saying "Think Outside The Box"! It simply means to think creatively and freely. Unfortunaly, it's such a typical and overused phrase in business that kinda kills the stream of ideas! If someone tells you: "Give me a great idea right now!" and holds an imaginary whip over you, you most likely end up being stressed, blocked, and deliver nothing or maybe a poor solution to the problem. On the other hand, when they go easy on you and you know you have nothing to worry about, the ideas will come far easier.
And that's what design thinking is about! It's a set of games or activities that support ideation and co-creation. When we are having fun, we tend to be more creative and come with far better ideas. But why is it so? Well, when we are relaxed and not afraid of any judgement (we know it’s just a silly exercise right, therefore silly answers are allowed and expected) the ideas flow more naturally.

I remember my professor Line always saying: ”Even the stupidest idea might inspire some of your team members to come up with a brilliant solution! So don’t be afraid to speak out!“

Another great quote comes from David Ogilvy (known as a Father of Advertising):
"The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

But I have to warn you! The process should not be seen as a magic toolkit that you simply follow and automatically succeed! A criticism comes along with it, so learn to embrace it!

The process

As I already mentioned, design thinking is an iterative process with emphasis on how real users think, feel and behave. It helps the team to define a problem with a specific point of
view and then reframe a problem by using a different point of view with a human
centered approach.

The 5-steps Design Thinking


  1. Empathise: Understanding the human needs involved.
  2. Define: Re-framing and defining the problem in human-centric ways.
  3. Ideate: Creating many ideas in ideation sessions.
  4. Prototype: Adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping.
  5. Test: Developing a prototype/solution to the problem.


If you have studied design, you may be introduced to a book by Jeanne Liedka and
Tim Ogilvie: ”Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers”
which identifies 4 stages:



  1. What is? - Emphatic understanding of what is right now
  2. What if? - Generating ideas and diving into possible solutions
  3. What wows? Testing against our design criteria
  4. What works? Prototyping, iterating and testing. Repeating the process until delivering the value

Warm-ups, activities & tools

WARMS-UPS are for creating a positive group atmosphere and reducing the pressure
before design thinking workshops. To learn more or to get some inspiration, I recommend reading this article on Medium: Warm-ups in Design Thinking - more than just a game



FREE Templates ⬇️:
Empathy map template
Business model canvas
Golden circle design
Journey mapping
The Design Sprint Kit by Google