What is this?


If you just ran the d.gift crash course, we hope you and your team found it to be a valuable experience, and you’re excited about doing more design thinking. If so, you are likely asking yourself how to maintain the momentum and integrate a design approach into your work.

Well, guess what?


(Three actually. We stayed up all night!)

Each is a different way to advance your project — think of them as a soundtrack for your next journey!

Choose one of them to help you immediately bring design thinking into your real-life challenges. Each mixtape will guide you through half a day of design thinking work. Plan to advance your project more in this half day than you might in a typical week.

In the spirit of bias-toward-action, get started now while you’ve still got your dancing shoes on.

What's a good first project for design thinking?

Design thinking can be used for diverse work, but it most easily adopted for the discovery phase of a project: when you are still seeking the meaningful problem to work on, or the right solution to pursue. So choose a project in its early stages or one you really want to shake up.

Second, choose a challenge that has a human element to it. Design thinking helps you excel in understanding people, gaining insights that you can leverage, and experimenting your way to a solution. So pick something in which people matter.

That said, it doesn’t have to be a consumer project. Just think about the people you are designing for (could be your clients, partners, supplies, fellow employees, etc.). Furthermore, most projects do have a human element; this could be an opportunity to bring that the forefront.

One way to frame your project around people, is to (re)state the challenge using this format:
“Redesign the [ topic ] experience for [ user ].”
The first blank is the project area/topic/goal (but make sure the solution isn’t already dictated). The second blank is a user group; don’t be afraid to be specific in identifying the user.

Some examples:

Redesign the sports apparel experience for elite highschool athletes (who may turn pro).
Redesign the supplier billing experiences for new wholesale customers of our company.
Redesign the in-store sunglasses buying experience for fashion-conscious women.
Redesign the social element of video entertainment for families.

Which mixtape should I choose?

You can think of the design process as an oscillation between engaging with people and experimenting with prototypes. Each progresses the project in a different way, and builds on each other. In between engaging and creating, you reframe how you are thinking about the challenge, and generate new ideas.

Ask yourself what your project needs right now:
Do you need to understand your users better and find new inspiration for your work?
Do you need start building, to stop planning and just try something?
Do you need to reframe the challenge and generate new solution possibilities?

Then ask yourself how to best engage your team. Balance leaning into strengths, with challenging them to work outside their comfort zone.

Each mixtape will be a starting point to jumpstart your work. As you progress through your project you will likely need to engage with people, reframe and ideate, and experiment, so just go with your gut feeling on which of the three would be the best place to start.

Start here.

Think about a challenge you and your team are facing.
Ask yourself what you need to do more of to advance this project.
Then choose one of these three mixtapes:

Understand Mixtape

Discovering insights via human engagement

This mixtape will lead you through interviewing and observing users, and then synthesizing your findings to discover meaningful needs and insights.


Experiment Mixtape

Advancing your solution via prototyping

Use this mixtape to rapidly develop and build your solution concepts and then test your prototypes with users.


Ideate Mixtape

Generating unexpected ideas via reframing your challenge

Use this mixtape to reframe your challenge, and facilitate a high-impact brainstorm to generate solution concepts.



Thomas Both, Jeremy Utley, and Scott Doorley

Photo credit for this webpage: Gavin Whitner MusicOomph.com