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17. Design (6 Design Techniques - to help business people apply design tools that complement their business skills)

Business people practice design every day. These tools will help do it better:

  1. Customer Insights - page 126
  2. Ideation - page 134
  3. Visual Thinking - page 146
  4. Prototyping - page 160
  5. Storytelling - page 170
  6. Scenarios - page 180

The purpose of these tools is to improve our thinking by creating better options so that we truly "design before we build."

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Replies to This Discussion

Customer Insights

The authors make a great point - too often we focus on asking what customers want instead of having a focus on understanding them. We also need to understand "which customers to heed and which customers to ignore."

The "You" -"Them" questions on page 129 and "The Empathy Map" on pages 130-131 are two useful Customer Insight Tools. Using these tools will get us "out of our heads" and "into the streets" with our customers.


To get started:  (Try reading "Risky is the New Safe" or "Leapfrogging") - "What if...?"

  • Be willing to do something different
  • Forget about the past
  • Ignore the competition
  • Challenge orthodoxies

Four Epicenters can stimulate the interest to innovate (Resource, Offer, Customer, Finance)

Five Characteristics of the Innovation (Diverse team, Immersion, Expanding, Criteria, Prototyping)

Visual Thinking

Jenny Trautman's work has pre-conditioned me to believe in the value of visual thinking. It also occurs to me that forcing us to draw pictures might cause us to use our "whole brain" and therefore - think and retain more effectively? Any insights on this?

I like checklists - they provided one for improvements generated by effective visual thinking -

  1. Understanding
  2. Dialogue
  3. Exploration
  4. Communication


It is important to understand the design mindset regarding prototyping - it is about creating options from which to choose not about making decisions.

To prototype I can:

  • Sketch on a napkin
  • Use the Business Model Generation Canvas
  • Develop a spreadsheet that reflects the business model
  • Do a field test (pilot?)

These ideas are good if they help me create options from which I can later decide what to actually do.


The benefit of an engaging story is the temporary "suspension of disbelief" needed to help us help others be open to change. And,  similar to "Visual Thinking" it can force us to use the "whole brain." It can also help us develop a prototype. In essence it can be a transition from the "paper-based" thinking that got us started to the actual implementation.

For years I have stated - "If you cannot explain your ideas to a trusted person while looking them in the eye - then perhaps you do not really believe in the idea." Well - the trusted person may not understand your business - but they could be entertained by a story - if you can tell it to them!

Again - this is a technique to aid design.


This is another tool (similar to Visual Thinking, Prototyping or Storytelling) that will help us move from abstract to concrete.

The scenario can describe a current customer setting or a potential future environment. The pictures on page 187 and 189 helped me understand the benefit and application of the "future scenario."

This tool feels like it would be quite useful if built upon "Customer Insights" and "Ideation."


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