5 Components to Design Thinking by Stanford d. School

While at Stanford, our CEO of Tembo Education (that’s me!), went through Design Thinking at Stanford’s d. School hosted by HP.

Design thinking is an innovative method of creating solutions. Solution-focused thinking, starting with a goal (a better future situation) instead of solving a specific problem.

By considering both present and future conditions and parameters of the problem, alternative solutions may be explored simultaneously. This approach differs from the analytical scientific method, which begins by thoroughly defining all parameters of a problem to create a solution.

Design thinking identifies and investigates with known and ambiguous aspects of the current situation to discover hidden parameters and open alternative paths that may lead to the goal. Because design thinking is iterative, intermediate “solutions” are also potential starting points of alternative paths, including redefining of the initial problem.


1. Empathy: Individuals on the team (ideally 4–6 members) must have empathy for each other to achieve optimal results. Then, develop empathy for the population you’re aiming to serve.

2. Define: Define a user story. If you capture the story, you’ll have a great design!

a) User (user description)

b) “needs a way…” (need)

c) “because…” (insight)

3. Ideate: Reframe the problem using the story created above. Let your imagination go wild! Brainstorming session with team each providing solutions. The crazier the idea, the better. Rules are to only use the words “yes” or “and.” Cannot use the words, “no” nor “but.” This stimulates new ideas, rather than suppressing them. Vote on your favorite.

4. Prototyping: Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Make the idea tangible (experience, product, etc.)

5. Test: Test your MVP with as many users as possible. Gather feedback to improve it. Iterate.

BONUS — Debrief: Gather the team for discussion. Only use “I like, I wonder, or I wish.”