Facilitating the design thinking process


 This module offers advice and information on how to facilitate a design thinking process. 

This module has two aims. The main aim is to provide information and guidelines to the facilitators as well as exercises and tools that can be used when facilitating. Another is to describe the objectives of the facilitator, which in this case corresponds, with the learning objective of the participants. 

There are several approaches to the facilitation of design thinking processes. We suggest that you choose your exercise based on your target group and the time available. 

The facilitator will need 4-100 participants for all exercises. 

The exercises are sorted in ascending order by difficulty and time consumption. 

1. The Design Thinking Crash course takes approximately one hour and can be used for all levels without any prior knowledge of design thinking. 

2. The one-day concept-making concept takes 8-10 hours and will need some prior understanding of design thinking to be fully successful. We recommend you use this with a target group that has at least a basic set of people skills and a very basic understanding of business and value streams. 

3. The "4C, Design and work with your own process" exercise demands that all participants have a basic understanding of all or at least most of the tools of the design thinking process and that the facilitator is very mindful of the flow of the design thinking process. 

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Learning Objectives

Facilitator: After going through this module the facilitator should understand the basics of how to design and facilitate a design thinking process. The facilitator should be able to set up a short workshop, and help the participant through the exercises below, and to help them achieve their learning objectives. Participant: Based on the exercises the participant should understand and be able to work with the continuous shifts between empathizing, creating and testing while working with a rather high pace. The participant should understand the three main design thinking phases as well as the flow between divergent and convergent thinking.
Level or Phase: All phases
Methods and Concepts: To train the facilitation skills of this module you will need to do workshops or live processes with entrepreneurs.


Since you are facilitating the entire design thinking process you will have to choose from the entire tool kit. Basic tools are pen and paper, flip charts, markers, post-its, masking tape, prototyping materials (see the exercises on prototyping), business model canvases, and you may also want to use paper rolls (1m x 5m) to draw up the 4C process and track your progress. Apart from the basic tools the following may also come in handy: camera, dictaphone, smart phone, foam boards, anything from a fab lab, Business Model Canvases and Validation Boards.

Reading List:

  •  All materials for the Design Thinking Crash Course are available at: http://dschool.standford.edu/dgift/
  • For "One-day Concept Making" have a look at "180 Academy: One-day Concept Making Process" which is available here at the SMART Site. 
  • For a thorough understanding of design thinking you may want to look into any of the books below. If you need to prioritize you might want to start with "The little Black Book of Innovation". 
  • Tom Kelley, "The Ten Faces of Innovation", Doubleday, 2005
  • Tom Kelley, "The Art of Innovation", Crown Business, 2007
  • Scott D. Anthony: "The Little Black Book of Innovation", HBR Press, 2011
Assessment Method: Each exercise should be assessed differently. Please refer to the exercise part for particulars.
Author: Jens Gamauf


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This project is implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme co-financed by the ERDF.