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Methods and Tools to discover human needs, business needs, operating needs, operating models and external forces



Challenge the Brief
Wicked Problems
Research Methods
Plan Research
Stakeholder Mapping
Explore Business Context
Interview Guide
Empathy Map
Build a Persona
Shared Model
Affinity Diagram
Problem Statement Definition
Opportunity Statement
5 Forces






This stage is about exploring and discovering needs from different perspectives. 

Before you set out to explore needs, get the team to align round the challenge you are tasked with. 

A good method to use is Visualisation. 

Get the team to visualise the complexity of the challenge by brainstorming the issues, the people involved, the knowns, unknowns, the assumptions they hold at this stage. Refer to following cards for further guidance: Challenge the Brief/Wicked Problems/Lists.

Thousands of people have experienced our Design Thinking Facilitation. Here we share some of the tools and methods that we keep using again and again. The Card Pack has been a key resource for us. We are now sharing it with you in its digital format.

Do get in touch if you would like the Beyond Post-its Card Pack.


You are now armed with a good list of Knowns/ Unknown/ Assumptions and a Stakeholder map. 


This will make it easier to get the team to think and plan how they go about the next stage, testing the assumptions and planning how to learn what they do not know, who to talk to, what data to collect, what materials to get their hands on, in other words “Put together a Research Plan”.  







There are many methods you can select here. Putting together a combination of primary and secondary research does the trick. This is a very divergent stage in the approach. Following is a selection of methods to uncover human needs, business needs and the external environment. In the card pack you will find a good mixture we have found useful. Have a look and select some to use with your team. Feel free to suggest other methods you have in your toolbox.

Analyse Synthesise Define

The team has collected a lot of data from the field research, from talking with experts, from documents and desk research. 


Time to analyse, synthesise, draw insights, define problems statements. Time to converge and create some order through the chaos of the accumulated data. 


You will be helping the teams to use the methods and tools. One of the moments where most of the teams struggle is Synthesis. This requires a lot of thinking and interpreting. It is useful to give the teams an example of what an Insight is, and how to frame a problem. 


This stage is about having a big wall space and white boards, lots of post-it notes and lots of people standing up in front of the wall moving post-its around, finding patterns, making connections, getting to the aha insights, framing and reframing problems. 

At the end of this stage your team will have a list of problem statements. Time to prioritise what the team will take to the next stage. 


A balancing act is required at this point to evaluate what matters most to the customer, and is priority for the business. The sponsor, the PO, Head of Department, the deciding authority should be involved in this stage. 


As design facilitator you may want to choose from the methods in the Card Pack.  

From Opportunity to Solutions

Gear Shift
Ideation Techniques
Ground Rules
Reverse Solutions
What If?
Identify Opportunities
Select Ideas
Priority Grid
Create a Concept
Receive/Give Feedback
Concept Feedback
Design Sprint


Techniques to generate, select ideas and turn them into rough concepts

The team has defined the opportunity areas for solutions. This is where you are moving from critical thinking to creative thinking. This is fun and often an easier part to facilitate. Right? Not really! 

It is very hard work to end up with good innovative ideas. To get this right as a facilitator here are  FIVE things to think about ahead of any ideation session with your team:


1. The quality of the HMW question. The team defined the problem statements and turned them into opportunity statements, questions starting with How Might We…? The quality of those HMWs is really crucial. It can open up vast possibilities for the team to ideate, or get them stuck! As a facilitator, you need to make sure you have some good HMWs to start with.

2. Who needs to be in the room? if you have a team that has been working together for some time, the likelihood of getting new ideas in a brainstorm is slim. Think who else you can invite.


3. When and where you do it. If the team is getting into the session straight after a lot of analytical work, it is quite hard to move into the creative space. What can you do as facilitator to get the team in the right frame of mind?

4. What methods to use to get the team to first generate lots of ideas then to select some of them for the next stage. A good facilitator can make Brainstorming a success. An inexperienced facilitator may find it difficult to manage the flow of ideas and include everybody, both introverts and extroverts among us into contributing. A good combination of individual brainstorming followed by group contribution might be the answer.  

5. Separate the divergent stage of coming up with 

many ideas from the convergent stage of selecting ideas. And, use criteria for selection. Before you ask the team to vote for a few ideas, give them real criteria for selection. 


Here is a checklist for you during the activity itself:

  • Put some music

  • Get them in the mood by using an energiser

  • Point the group to the ground rules 

  • Give them time and design constraints

  • Combine individual work with building on  the ideas of the team

  • Enjoy!

Often, more good ideas come after the Brainstorm, find a way to capture them, by giving the team a space to add ideas as they pop, in the coming days.

The outcome: you have a few good opportunity spaces for solutions! Well done team! And don’t stop there. You can take those ideas further very quickly by getting the team to turn them from an idea on a post it into a rough concept that you can test with customers and stakeholders.


Techniques to prototype and test solutions with customers and stakeholders and plan the implementation blueprint and roadmap

There are several types of prototypes from rough and ready to high fidelity ones:

• Rough and Ready prototypes. 

• Live prototypes. 

• Pilots 

Low resolution prototyping is a way of quickly and cheaply figuring out what doesn’t work. That means that you should be ready to discard your ideas. Think of each prototype as a learning opportunity, and a temporary step towards the final solution. 

Don’t fall in love with your prototype! 

Test Fail Fast Learn

The whole purpose of prototyping is so that you have something tangible you can test. Testing is about “failing forward.” You want to make sure that you are investing time and resources on building the right “it” before you figure out how to build “it” right.

Explain to the team why it is important to test and how to test. While there are many methods of testing, it is important to give the message that a certain mindset is needed when you go out and test. Here are some 4 tips you can give your team to keep in mind:

  • Do NOT sell your idea: Your goal is NOT to convince someone that your idea is fantastic. You want to find out what can be improved. 

  • Let the tester experience the prototype instead of just showing them the prototype. 

  • Capture the feedback

  • Iterate/Repeat


Be open to unexpected outcomes and misunderstandings: If the person who is testing your prototype didn’t get your idea, embrace that as an opportunity to learn more about the meaning they saw in it. That might inform your next iteration. 




Types of Prototypes
Prototype Techniques
Journey Mapping
Co-iterate with Users
Prioritise 2x2

Tell Your Story Inspire

We use our Human Centred Approach to tell a good story for impact.

Our 4D framework is :

Discover Define Develop Deliver


Start with Why? – the rationale for your communication, presentation, storytelling. There are several Why questions, like: Why do you need to communicate/present/talk; Why should anyone care about what you have to say? Why are you the right person to talk about it and what credentials do you have?


It is not always easy to get into a mindset that
lets you put the audience at the center.

This mindset will help you shift the positioning and empathise with the audience as best as you can. 


Discover Define

Develop Deliver

A Checklist for Storytelling
Empathise with Audience
Storyboard Pen and Paper
Message Plan
A Drama in Three Acts
Six Word Story
The Art of Tweet
The Art of Pitching
The Question Pitch
The One Word Pitch
The Elevator Pitch
Story From The Future
Pecha Kucha


This stage in the process is about the content. This is when you need both your analytical skills to select wisely and your creative skills of presenting the materials in ways that inspire influence and persuade.


You have crafted a great message in the form of a talk,  a slide presentation, and more. But the presentation really is YOU! Everything else is there to support you.

For anybody presenting, newbie or experienced, there are two common questions: How to manage nerves and how to create presence.This is when you need to think about how to use voice, tone, body language and how to manage anxiety and develop authentic presence during both presentation/ speaking and Q&A sessions.


In the card pack you will find some USEFUL tools and techniques we have collected.


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