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There have been many iterations of what people call "design thinking". This is how I define it.

Design Thinking is about solving problems through understanding user needs/desires. ​


Often the steps are represented as a sequence (like in this graphic) where work might cycle through the steps several times. 

But some people mistake it for a linear flow.  Below is how some people present design thinking and the design process.

Design Thinking As It’s Usually Represented.png

It would be nice if things were this tidy but we know product design and development generally isn't. 

This second graphic is more often how it works (assuming you have dedicated user research resources). Ideate, Define & Prototype all happen together, though phases may repeat or overlap.


I prioritize my teams getting the 'Minimum Viable Requirements' in order to kickoff ideation. Often requirements shift or change during the process. That is less than ideal, but also common, especially at startups. Often the act of reviewing initial ideas with stakeholders will yield additions or adjustments to the requirements. 

Design Thinking In Reality.png

Then verify/clarify requirements and success metrics and iterate.

In some cases you might share initial ideas in prototypes, whatever communicates the ideas well and isn't resource intensive. As you iterate and get more specifics, think about when you will be ready to get user feedback. This could be early on, or it might take having major workflows designed out. When getting feedback on flows and behaviors I've found very useful for getting feedback quickly from a distributed team and for getting feedback from users/prospects. Don't shy from iterating within testing/feedback cycles too. The goal of feedback cycles is to get to good solutions, quickly. This can all happen within a week or two if you have to tools and processes set up for it.  

Projects where I've utilized this approach:



Event Templates

App Redesigns


Sigma Computing:

Selling to Marketers



Fantasy Sports Redesign

I have also run Scrum design sessions, and even integrated design and engineering within the same Scrum teams. However, most people are more comfortable having design and engineering phases be separate but overlapping.

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