Design thinking is a user or human centric approach to create products or services that focuses on understanding the wants or needs of the end-user and then innovating in a way that takes those wants or needs into consideration.
Design thinking incorporates five stages: empathize, define the problem, idea, prototype and test.
No specific tools.
The Stanford D-school – Redesign the Gift-Giving Experience is an immersive activity meant to give participants a full cycle through the design thinking process in around 2 hours (that include debriefing). Instead of telling students about the design thinking method, you can facilitate the experience for them.
Stanford D. School – How to kick off a crash course
What you need:
- at least 2 facilitators
- if it is your first experience, you can download the students’ workbook and the facilitator guide to help you in guiding the activity.
- to organize the class in pairs
- to make available to students different material to be used for prototyping and supporting flux of ideas – the material you can easily access: for ex. paper (white and coloured), scissors, pens, glue, cardboard, foil, duct tape, lego, etc.
Space should be configured to allow for participants to pair up and move around easily.
Challenge students has to afford: participants haveneed to design something to improve their partners’ experience of finding/selecting/buying/giving gifts (they are not designing a gift for their partners).
Stage 1: gaining empathy
- 1st interview (8 min, 2 sessions of 4 min each): the pairs take turns to ask each other about the last time they gave a gift. Students take notes
- 2nd interview (6 min, 2 sessions of 3 min each): the pairs take turns to ask each other stories, emotions with the aim to dig deeper. Students take notes
Stage 2: reframe the problem
- capture findings/insights (3 min): what are the goals and wishes of the partner?
- take a stand with a point of view: each participant will state the challenge they are going to address
Stage 3: ideate by generating alternatives to test
5. sketch at least 5 radical ways to meet the users’ needs (5 min)
6. share the solutions and capture feedback (10 min, 2 sessions of 5 min each)
Stage 4: iterate based on feedback
7. reflect & generate a new solution (3 min)
Stage 5: build and test
8. build the solution, something the partner can interact with (7 min)
9. share solution and get feedback (8 min, 2 sessions of 4 min each)
Stage 6: debriefing
A well facilitated reflection can turn this exercise from a fun activity to a meaningful experience that could impact the way participants approach innovation. The key to leading is to relate the activity to the core values of design thinking:
- Human-centered design: Empathy for the person or people you are designing for, and feedback from users, is fundamental.
- Experimentation and prototyping: Prototyping is not simply a way to validate ideas; it is an integral part of the innovation process. We build to think and learn.
- A bias towards action: Design thinking is more about doing that thinking. Bias toward doing and making over thinking and meeting.
- Show don’t tell: Creating experiences, using illustrative visuals, and telling good stories communicate vision in an impactful and meaningful way.
- Power of iteration: The reason we go through the exercise at a frantic pace is to help people to experience a full design cycle. A person’s fluency with design thinking is a function of cycles, so we challenge participants to go through as many cycles as possible—interview twice, sketch twice, and test with your partner twice.
- Additionally, iterating solutions many times within a project is key to successful outcomes.
Standford D. School – Design Thinking basic rubric
Standford D. School Resources: Tools for taking action
Stanford D. School Wiki: Design resources
Stanford D. School How to kick off a crash course
A.J Juliani Intentional Innovation
Connection with other methods
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eLene4Life supports curriculum innovation in higher education (HE) through the development of active learning approaches for transversal skills, with the ultimate aim of improving students’ employability.
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