Design thinking – part 1 – my recap

Everything is designed. You don’t have to be a designer to influence the design of things.

Adapted from Tim Brown, IDEO CEO

A quick write-up to further solidify my week 1 learning.

  • At it’s core, design thinking is empathy, ideation and experimentation

I remember this seems odd, because I was expecting it to be a set of set stages you followed to be a “design thinker”, however it appears to be more about a way of acting with some “set pieces” to maximise that approach.

Agile was a way of thinking, but had lots of managed stages and a particular roles / rules to help you at each stage to make further support an Agile team. However, this quite literally is a way of thinking. #CluesInTheName It sounds obvious but I hadn’t realised it.


Really understanding your user’s / learners perspective leads to being able to make a better design for them (and potentially others). Some tips were,

  • Always say yes to what they offer (tea, coffee, biscuits) so they feel comfortable
  • Be brave and leave pauses during an interview, this allows your participant to mull on their answer more and potentially share more
  • Fall in Love, not literally, but you need to be thinking in an empathetic manner with them, so loving them means you care more for why.

“Treat people like partners in research” – this struck a chord with me, I always collaborate i.e., involve my colleagues in the discussions as partners to the solution.


Go wild. Some of these ideas won’t make it past the whiteboard, but you’re allowed to go there.

This to me is seriously linked to Agile in that the board can list everything, but really only the priority ones that hit the goal will naturally boil to the front.


Small experiments early always tell a lot. Whether it’s a few <div>s and a bit of javascript, or a notepad and a conversation, that’s a real experiment.

In Agile it’s the same, iterations and releasing early lead to better, more valuable work. I’m used to producing things on a notepad first, moving them further along with OmniGraffle or PowerPoint.


A lot of design thinking is quite similar to Agile, “Lean startup” and 7 day startup and also my own way of working, so really I think I’m looking for,

  • more tips through the course to improve my general skill-base,
  • applying that thinking to my work today, and
  • #humblebrag sharing “I’ve completed a design thinking course” on Linkedin

Good, onwards to week 2 and learning more about “inspiring new thinking”.

Featured image from, pixabay

By Dan Course

Senior Instructional Designer. Partnerships, people, products, delivery, agile tech and online edu. Naturally curious, innovative and willing to challenge the status quo.

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