Tools for design thinkers

A toolkit for open collaboration

The tradition of design thinking is now more than 65 years old. In recent years, as human-centered design is introduced into BC's K-12 curriculum as a critical way of problem-solving, our organizations are recognizing the need to get acquainted with this alternative way of approaching creativity.

Design thinking is a proven method of creative problem-solving and innovation. Consider it a workflow, a toolkit, to help you approach unsolved problems through a defined methodology, rather than relying on "inspiration" to strike at random. It also happens to be an area of practice Domain7 has been building solid expertise in over the years.

Below are a series of tools and resources to help you dive into the innovation practice that can change your community.

When we choose to involve a community in problem-solving, instead of letting fear or habit keep us in isolation, we've already changed everything. The magic of design thinking is not the tools themselves, it's the mindset of "we."

Kevan Gilbert, Director of Engagement Strategy, Domain7

The design thinking workflow

While every design thinking training will offer different headings for each phase, the general flow looks like this:

The Brief: Define the scope of the problem you are trying to solve, usually with a How Might We question

Input: Commit to open research on the topic at hand, especially involving direct contact and study with users. Move from a divergent space (exploration), to a convergent space (synthesis).

Ideation: Develop future-facing ideas, jammed together from unexpected connections (divergence), and begin to filter and refine until workable, coherent possibilities emerge (convergence).

 Emergence: Create testable prototypes (sketches, demos, descriptions) of the idea.Bring your experiment to the people that inspired it, to invite feedback, vet the viability of the idea, discover the flaws and advantages, to see if it's working. This allows you to decide on a next step (execute or keep exploring).



The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

Make Light Work in Groups: 10 Tools to Transform Meetings, Companies and Communities by Kate Sutherland 

This is Service Design Thinking by Marc Stickdorn 

Practical Empathy by Indi Young 

Designing for Growth by Darden Business School

IDEO's case studies


THNK's Reframe tool (for when you're stuck on the Brief)
Adaptive Path's Experience Mapping (for the Input phase)
THNK's Idea Jackpot (for the Ideation-Divergent phase)
Futuredeck (for the Ideation-Divergent phase)
Business Model canvas (for the Emergence phase)

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Explore innovation with Domain7

Domain7 is a digital product firm with a vision of making a more empathetic and connected world. 

Founded nearly 20 years ago, Domain7 continues to attract a like-minded tribe of changemakers. Domain7 has been called "Canada's best agency to work for," and was also nominated for 2016's BCTIA award for "Emerging company of the year."

Domain7 offers design thinking training sessions as publicly-available community events like this one, or through custom in-company programs. Our staff has learned from leading design thinking organizations, such as IDEO U, Adaptive Path, THNK School of Creative Leadership and Google Ventures.

Please get in touch if you're interested in exploring design thinking for your organization.

How will you use these tools? Drop us a line if you need any help interpreting or adapting any of these approaches to your own context.