You may have founded your company on a killer idea that could be the next big product. You might have incredible ideas and lots of inspiration in the early days of your company. How long and consistently does it continue like that? What’s the best strategy when you run out of your ideas and waiting for your inspiration fairies? Do you know which design thinking tools to employ?

Better yet, what even is design thinking? In short, it’s how companies come up with the next step and keep the flow going. In this article, we will show you some of the most popular tools to aid in your entrepreneurial creativity.

If you want to learn why design thinking is so important for your business, read our article. Or, for more insights from experienced entrepreneurs, sign up for our EWOR Platform and gain access to over 17 courses and a plethora of resources.

Tools To Get the Creativity Flowing

Where there is a product or an innovation, there is design thinking. It helps companies creatively solve problems by seeing things from their customers’ perspectives. There are lots of tools that companies can use at different stages of their design thinking processes. Here are the 10 most popular design thinking tools that you can use for your business. 

1. Visualisation

Although the name of this tool may have a different appeal to you, it has nothing to do with drawing or images. It allows us to think about a problem in a situation and to create a picture in our minds. 

You need people who can see the bigger picture. Sometimes it might be hard to explain the picture that you draw in your mind, especially when it is something absolutely unique. Yet, it is a very fascinating tool because your brain creates something that can exist in the future. 

2. Journey Mapping

It is the visualisation of the use of your product by customers. There is always a specific user, a scenario, and goals within a timeline. In that way, it provides a holistic approach to customers’ needs and possible emotions and experiences that they might go through. 

A small group of customers is interviewed to be able to make assumptions with high accuracy. In that way, you gain insight into possible customers’ reactions and experiences and can decide on the next step based on these results. The purpose is to come up with hypotheses with a higher likelihood for testing. 

Read our article to learn more about journey mapping. 

3. Mind Mapping 

This is one of the most fun tools that bring out the detective inside of you. The goal is to visualise and categorise the ideas or items to find out how they are linked to the main idea and to each other. It is a very motivating activity when conducted in groups. Teams try to connect ideas by pointing out the patterns or themes in common. 

4. Assumption Testing 

The main goal of this design thinking tool is to evaluate the likelihood of assumptions about the potential of your new business idea. Experiments test assumptions and determine whether the business idea is attractive enough for your customer. 

Once you decide which assumptions are important and collect enough data, you need to sort the data into categories. These consist of what you know, what you don’t and/or can’t know, and what you don’t but could know. The last category is where you will need the design thinking process. After you go through the problems and test some thought experiments, you narrow them down to the one(s) with the most potential. 

5. Storytelling

Storytelling makes it easier to evaluate the effect of your product in familiar situations. Through creating stories, you give others to experience the process on a relatable human level. You don’t only see the product as the creator or promoter, but you gain an insight into the user’s perspective. 

The goal of storytelling is to ask questions and answer them. Stories generate questions and questions generate answers, ideas, and solutions. It is also a great tool to receive feedback, which is especially crucial for the iterative process of prototyping. 

6. Brainstorming

It’s one of the main design thinking tools. Not only that, but it is primarily used in the ideation process.  This tool helps teams develop solutions in a controlled free thinking environment. Teams come up with spontaneous and creative ideas for problem-solving. Everyone is encouraged to share their ideas out loud. The goal is to name as many ideas as possible, therefore, quantity is more important than quality. 

Read our article to learn more about brainstorming. 

7. Rapid Prototyping

It’s one of the most creative and exciting tools. It is the process of turning an idea into something tangible for your potential customers and investors.  You can combine it with different tools such as user scenarios, journey mapping, storyboarding, and anything that would initiate feedback and involvement from significant stakeholders. 

The main goal is to minimise the “I” in ROI (Return on Investment). Sometimes the money you need to spend on a simple 2-D prototype is not more than the cost of a pen and paper. Not every business comes up with 3-D prototypes at first. Therefore, you can use basic materials or tools such as imagines, role-play, storyboard, etc. 

Read our article to learn more about prototyping. 

8. Learning Launch

As the name suggests, the purpose of this tool is to learn. Value-generating assumption tests are conducted through learning experiments or prototypes designed. These experiments give you an insight into the potential of your product and whether it meets the needs of the marketplace. 

It is a design thinking tool that relies on “What if?” questions. Once you test your hypothesis, and it is disapproved, you should learn from the outcomes and try to reform the hypothesis in a more effective way. 

9. Customer Co-creation

It’s a tool that required lots of interaction with your customers. You need to collaborate with them to decide on the design of your product. It is a different and progressive way to approach business. By giving control to your users and letting them be a part of the whole process, you increase the effectiveness of your product and the success of your business. In that way, you know exactly what’s needed and what could have been added or changed. 

10. Value Chain Analysis

This tool helps you create value for your customers. This value decided how perfect or excellent your product should be in order to meet that value. In that way, you aim to increase not only the quality of your product, but also the service and even your team. You can employ different design thinking tools within that process, such as brainstorming and journey mapping. 

Value chain analysis consists of three stages. The first one is the activity analysis, where you analyse what contributes to product delivery. The second step is the value analysis, where you decide on what your customers value and what changes will best satisfy them. The last one is evaluation and planning, where you come up with the whole plan to make those necessary changes. 

All in All… 

Design thinking tools are essential for your business to find solutions and come up with different and creative ideas. There is a variety of design thinking tools. We gathered around the 10 most popular design thinking tools such as brainstorming, visualisation, and story-telling. By using these progressive and fun design thinking tools, you can speed the problem-solving process up, test your ideas and products, and increase the success of your business. 

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