Introduction to Design Thinking

Design thinking is a powerful tool for cultural Innopreneurs, aiding them in creating innovative and meaningful cultural initiatives. By focusing on user needs and fostering adaptability, design thinking ensures that projects resonate with diverse audiences in the dynamic cultural landscape. Its problem-reframing approach helps culturalpreneurs tackle complex challenges creatively.

Encouraging collaboration and co-creation, design thinking facilitates the integration of diverse perspectives in cultural projects. The methodology’s emphasis on prototyping and testing allows for experimentation, ensuring that initiatives are both creative and effective. Community engagement is at the forefront, aligning with the collaborative nature of cultural initiatives.

Design Thinking is a philosophy, combined with a set of tools, to help us solve problems creatively. It is a human-centered problem-solving approach that consists of six phases, each contributing to a holistic and iterative design process (Figure 1).

Overview of the six-phases:

  1. Understand (Research and Explore): In this phase, designers delve into the problem by conducting research, interviews, and observations to gain a broad understanding of the context and the user’s world.
  2. Empathize (Understand User Needs): Building on the understanding phase, designers seek to empathize with users, developing a deep appreciation of their needs, emotions, and motivations.
  3. Synthesis and Define (Frame the Problem): With insights from the empathize phase, designers define the problem statement, synthesizing data and user needs to form a clear, actionable problem statement.
  4. Ideate (Generate Ideas): Next, designers brainstorm and ideate, generating a multitude of creative solutions without judgment to address the defined problem.
  5. Prototype (Build Tangible Solutions): Designers create low-fidelity prototypes or representations of their ideas, allowing them to quickly test and refine concepts based on user feedback.
  6. Test and Evaluate (Gather Feedback): Prototypes are presented to users for feedback and evaluation, leading to further refinements and insights to inform the final solution.

Implementing Design Thinking for a Diverse, Multicultural Learning Group
by Vianne, facilitator from blinc

In my role as a facilitator in non-formal adult education, my focus lies in social inclusion, sustainable development, and innovation. I often work with groups of learners who come from various backgrounds, each with their own set of expectations. Meeting these varied needs can be quite a challenge.

Applying the principles of CIP design thinking training, I have learned to delve deeper into understanding my learners beyond customary ice-breaking. I invited participants to share their expectations, learning styles, personal passions, and professional aspirations. This helps me identify common ground among my learners, enabling me to tailor sessions to their varied needs.

By emphasising that our workshops are a collaborative journey and an iterative process, I create a comfortable and adventurous space for both my learners and myself to explore and take risks together.

I recently organised a blended course titled “Design Thinking for Social Innovators,” drawing 26 participants from 9 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East – university students, business owners, educators, and NGO staff. This diverse cohort found satisfaction in the course and the prototypes they developed.



The method of bisociation or also stimulus image or stimulus word technique describes the creative process of generating ideas in which images or terms from unfamiliar areas are combined with one another. The technique is ideal for breaking through established thought patterns and finding completely new approaches.

  1. The team looks at pictures, words, or videos that at first glance have nothing in common. It doesn’t have to be stimuli from one category only. It is also possible to use a combination such as photos and words. Ideally, the group analyses two stimuli, especially if the technology is new to them (maximum five)
  2. Then the team members individually note which associations the stimuli trigger in them – of course in relation to the original challenge
  3. In the following brainwriting phase the new ideas were collected and discussed in terms of potential and feasibility.

The Wow-How-Now method is suitable when the process of collecting ideas is largely completed and you need to set priorities. The ideas collected are evaluated according to their originality or innovative strength as well as on the basis of their feasibility and entered into a matrix. In this way, the team can decide which ideas to select to continue the process.

Wow-How-Now-Ciao Matrix
Wow-How-Now-Ciao Matrix
  1. The DT team draws a two-axis matrix (2×2).
  2. The Y-axis is referred to with the term originality,
  3. the X-axis with feasibility.
  4. The field at the top right is labelled “How” (the originality is high, but it is difficult to implement); “Wow” follows at the bottom right (the originality is high, so is the feasibility – the best ideas will be found here later); “Now ” is written at the bottom left (the originality is low, but the feasibility is feasible – short-term measures can be collected here). In the field at the top left, ideas are written down that are neither original nor feasible – they will not be used for the rest of the process, so you can say “Ciao”.
  5. Be sure to discuss these decisions in the team.
Take the Quiz!

CIP Design Thinking Online Module
LINK HERE (Registration required)

CIP Design Thinking Introduction Presentation