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Not only did she explain the topic to TheVentury in a 4 hour long workshop recently, Kathrin Zirn even agreed to an interview on the topic of Design Thinking. So Kathy, what exactly is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is the I- düpfele on top of innovation

What our Swabian colleague is trying to convey is that design thinking is the icing on top of a delicious problem-solving cake. Now, as that still might not explain everything, let’s start with a better metaphor.

6 blind servants and an elephant

Once upon a time there was a king living in a far away land. He had heard of legendary creatures roaming the lands of Africa and wanted to know what they looked like. So he sent 6 of his most loyal servants on an expedition to come back with an accurate description of an elephant. The catch: All of them were blind. Then what did they tell him once they returned?

“Elephants are equipped with giant ears!” said the one, that had been assigned to feel up the elephant’s head.

“No, they are just a tale with hair at the end.” explained the one that had angered the animal by pulling its tail.

“On the contrary!” the third one exclaimed “They are just one big fat mass!”

“You are all absolutely right. That is an elephant.” the king calmed down his servants.

So, what’s the lesson?

It is all about perspective

Would only one of the servants alone have gotten the right picture? Absolutely not. They were all approaching their task, their problem, from a different perspective and just by combining each individual solution managed to fulfil what they were sent to do. That is the premise of Design Thinking. You can never perfectly solve an (innovation) problem without some extra insights. Or by changing your point of view and taking your users’ position. Here’s what you do: You will first explore the problem from your users’ perspective, assume their POV and then get to work. This is called the “Double Diamond”: We’ll broaden your spectrum, then narrow it down and focus. Then we will broaden your mindset with excessive brainstorming, then you test it.


Find out what your audience’s problems and pain points are. Conduct interviews, send out surveys, ask for feedback. Just listen to them! You can only solve problems you are aware of – And you only have to solve problems that actually exist.


Gain a deep understanding of why this is a problem. What exactly are your users’ expectations? What do they want? Try to understand what pains your users. Really understand and feel with them. This will make you thrive for a solution.


Combine your empathic feelings and compelling motivations with rational thinking and scope a specific challenge. This often requires reframing your previous thoughts and looking at them through a more objective lens – But it will enable you to finally get to work.


Brainstorm. Mentally go wide and document everything that comes to mind – as crazy as it might seem. That’s the goal: Think outside the box, drop the focus and go wild on your mind maps. You may or may not catch a gem.


Time to get your hands dirty, figuratively or literally. Bring your idea into the physical world, be it with post-it notes, Lego, forming it with clay or doing an interpretive dance. Discuss. If you forgot – This is a team activity. Resolve discussion, start a conversation, get rid of bad ideas quickly.


Feedback- time! Talk to other people, be it your users, other problem-solvers, your boss or your mom. Is there anything you overlooked when building your prototype? Anything missing? This phase helps you with refining your point of view and gathering more information. But most importantly it stays true to our mantra:


Interested in learning more about Design Thinking and its possibilities?

Contact us and we will get in touch!

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