Design thinking

Design Your Solution

Using Design Thinking for Just About Anything

The idea of “design thinking” isn’t a new one, but the process can be used in a much larger scheme of situations than most people give it credit for. People in marketing, research, training and development, and other similar positions might be more familiar with the term, but why stop there? What if we stopped looking for solutions and started designing them in general? Here is a simple way of looking at the “Design Thinking Process” that can be applied to just about any situation:

Step One: Discover – One of the keys of design thinking is to put the end-user first. Whether that is your team of HR professionals or your children, look for information you can use to better understand the situation. Some ways to do this include conducting interviews, checking out the competition, and gathering data for analysis.

Step Two: Define – This is where you determine what the pieces of the solution might look like. Once all of that information from step one is gathered, now you can get creative and determine how to approach the situation. This step could include creating problem statements or experience maps, writing out examples of what the final solution could and should include.

Step Three: Ideate – Now that we know what we want, let’s take the next step and look for ways to achieve it. This step is when specific ways to solve the problem or address the situation are decided. Think about brainstorming sessions, creating blueprints, or even storyboards.

Step Four: Prototype – This is where we get our hands dirty. Most people want to jump to a possible solution right away, but without steps one through three, we’re letting intuition and guesswork control the process. Having a well-crafted way for people to practice or simulate the final solution is what makes this step critical, before they ever see it. Examples include mockups, test webpages and interactive presentations.

Step Five: Test – Here is the trick to step five: You should be asking for feedback throughout the whole process from your stakeholders. Include them in the process from the beginning, so that by this point you are validating what others have said before, not identifying critical elements this late in the process. Testing your design can look a lot like step one with interviews and observations, data analytics and metrics.

Whether you are designing a new performance review process or trying to decide where to go on vacation next, design thinking can be a useful tool for people to keep in mind. Following the process can increase confidence in your work and among those most impacted by the results. So, stop searching for solutions and start designing them!


UW-Green Bay’s Continuing Education and Community Engagement Division is continuously looking for ways to stay on the cutting edge of professional development for its clients. Be sure to check out the CECE website below, and reach out if you have ideas for new content you want to see!


Writing/Research Credit: Christopher Ledvina, UW-Green Bay Business Development Specialist
User Experience Learning at

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