Part 1 – Overview and Inspiration phase

Everyone is talking about Design Thinking but not many people understand or know how to use this methodology. This is the first in a 3 part series thats a crash course in Design Thinking that will teach you all the important parts of this methodology I learned while becoming an IDEO certified Design Thinking Trainer. In this episode, we will give you an overview of all of the parts of Design Thinking and then explore the inspiration phase which consists of research and synthesis.

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Show Notes:

Today we are going to start talking about Design Thinking. Tons of people talk about Design Thinking but they use it as a generic term though it is a specific methodology. The Wikipedia page on Design Thinking is about 6 miles long and it confuses the hell out of me and I understand what it is. So this is going to be the crash course so you can understand what it is and how to use it.

These podcasts are going to teach you a methodology – a way to solve problems. Your challenge will be to learn the methodology and then work to apply it to your problems. You are probably going to have to use Design Thinking on a problem a few times to really understand all the nuances.


– Created in the 1960’s, perfect by IDEO in the 1990’s and has recently found fame again. Its found fame again since every company wants to be more innovative but don’t know how to teach their people how to be creative.
– Design thinking is a method of creative problem solving. But design doesn’t even have to be a part of the output the process.
– You start by deeply understanding people. That’s why Design Thinking is often called human-centered design.
– The biggest problem with Design Thinking is the word ‘design’ in the title.


– The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping phases rather than a sequence of orderly steps.
– There are three phases: inspiration, ideation, and implementation.
– Inspiration is means of opening up the problem or opportunity space through research activities.
– Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas.
– Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives.
– For the purposes of learning and discussion today, the phases and steps of the process are presented here as linear.


Inspiration is the first step towards creating a product or service.


– Just what it sounds like – this is your problem to be solved.
– Make sure it is a problem to be solved and not a solution to be vetted.


– Upon receiving your design challenge, it’s important to go out and observe with fresh eyes. Design starts with research to gain empathy and understanding.
– There are three main parts to research: immersion, observation and interviewing.
– Keep in mind that the objective is always to find a deeper understanding of users’ latent needs.
– Immersion: Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes
– Interviewing: Go out and talk to people.
– Observation: What people say they do and what they actually do are often different.
– You will find there will be three types of people. Ones who have never done what you want to research, ones who do it regularly and ones who do it professionally. You will be tempted to take the middle group but they will be the most predictable. Not where are likely to find the most interesting insights. Look for extreme users or extreme usage behaviors.
– What else should you look for?
– Look for workarounds and adaptations.
– Look for things people care about.
– Look for things that are missing.
– Look for anything that surprises you.


– Synthesis is making meaning from your observations.
– Its moving from observation to insight.
– Observations are the what, the facts. Insights are the why, the interpretation.
– An insight is a statement about people’s behavior, values and mental models that highlights needs or areas to be improved.
– A good insight should do 3 things
– Represents an unmet need. It points to an area that needs improvement.
– Reveals an ‘Aha!’ Once you state it, it clarifies and simplifies your research.
– Is not a solution. While it inspires many ideas, it doesn’t point to a single one.
– In other words, it should be authentic, non-obvious (not the thing you’d immediately think of), and revealing of how people think or feel.
– An insight is not a slogan, a mission statement or a solution.

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