Secret Sauce of Design Thinking — Why I like using “Double Diamond” more than “5 Steps.”

After doing a lot of Design Thinking workshops and training for students, entrepreneurs, educators and corporates, I prefer to use the Double Diamond model more in my teaching. This article will talk about the reason. If you have taken design thinking training before, you must hear about the problematic answer of “What is Design Thinking?” Two common presentations are:

  • Double Diamond Model, proposed in 1996 by Hungarian-American linguist Béla H. Bánáthy. ; and
  • 5 Steps Process, presented by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (
Double Diamond Model
5 Steps Design Process

They are talking about the same thing, “What is Design Thinking”. However, they are presenting the steps from different angles and perspectives. It sounds no big deal as it is common to say the same thing more than one way. So why do I like the double diamond model more? And why does it matters?

The Purpose of Creating a Model

We like to create models or frameworks. So that we can easy to tell others what are we talking about. It helps others to follow it step by step. Like these two models, both have degrees, and people will follow steps. Actually, behind the model, there are lots of theories and studies to support the model. We can say that a model is a way to summarize the findings or understanding. Therefore, if we don’t understand the background and follow the steps without thinking, we will miss the critical value. That’s why I think “Double Diamond” and “5 steps” are different.

Divergence-Convergence is the Key

Double Diamond is the name of a design process model popularized by the British Design Council in 2005 and adapted from the divergence-convergence model proposed in 1996 by Hungarian-American linguist Béla H. Bánáthy. Back to the original one, the bookDesigning Social Systems in a Changing Worldby Béla H. Bánáthy, Banathy describes the dynamics of a design process as going through a stage of divergent exploration and then iterating converge and refine a specific alternative. Facing the changing world, the book talks about the what, why, how of social system design.

He believes that even if people fully develop their potential, they cannot give direction to their lives, they cannot forge their destiny, they cannot take charge of their future-unless they also develop competence to take part directly and authentically in the design of the systems in which they live and work and reclaim their right to do so. True empowerment is about, and this book is about enabling such a charge.

As one of the tools for a human being to involve in the system change, Double Diamond Model emphasize Divergence and Convergence, which are two essential stages of decision making. I’m not sure if it is correct to call it “decision making”, but I think it is the separation of phases when people participate in a change management process. People should have other goals and mindsets in the different stages to be prepared.

That’s why I prefer the Double Diamond Model, which empowers people with a Divergence and Convergence mindset change.

Being Creative to Diverge, Being Logical to Converge

Without mindset preparation, tools are meaningless.

If you are not empathic, you can do nothing with Empathy Map. The same as the whole design thinking process, and you need to focus on and be prepared for the specific mindset in the different stages.

At the Divergence stage, we would like to explore the problems and brainstorm ideas. Then you need to be more creative and open to possibilities. It would help if you had crazy ideas and welcomed the unknown to bring you to the new world. You need to find something you don’t know before.

At the Convergence stage, we would like to make decisions and narrow down our choices. We want to find a single problem to focus on and start working on an idea worth investing time and resources in. You need to evaluate it step by step and think logically.

Do you see? It is clearer to plan your sessions and maybe plan the meeting with your team. Even for the space setting, you need an open space for Divergence and a private meeting room with equipment for Convergence. Also, you will be clear on the expectation and roles in different stages.


Why do sometimes our sessions fail? Maybe the core value is missing. “5 steps” is easy to follow, but you may forget the critical mindset in the different stages, which will change the whole session’s goal and setting. Next time you plan a design thinking session for your clients or team, think in the Double Diamond model and ask yourself, “Is it Divergence or Convergence?” You may find a clear direction for yourself.




How to drive Mindset Shift? Discovering, Understanding, Praticing. That’s why Design Thinking Mindset Academy shared the wisdom in DT Mindset and the real life example and guideline.

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Cyron Chan

Cyron Chan

Impact Venture Builder | Social Innovation 💡| (Social/Impact) Entrepreneurial Mindset Education | Design Thinking Mindset | Yes, all about a mindset change 😎

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