The Role of Design Thinking in the Design Process

By Ian Stokol, CCXP posted 06-22-2020 09:00 AM


In my first post examining the results of Limina’s recent study on the current state of UX design practices in organizations, I discussed the alignment of the published best practices with CXPA’s CX competency framework. In my second post, I discussed the relationship between UX and CX. Below, I discuss the role of design thinking in the overall design process.

Where does Design Thinking Fit in?

Ideation, which is a key phase of Design Thinking, is a key part of the UX design process and should be shared across the organization with people from different disciplines to get a full human-centered design DVF view of possible solutions. Considered the ideal innovation process, DVF is the trifecta of desirability, viability, and feasibility – an idea that originated from IDEO in the early 2000s. DVF is a CX/UX framework which answers the following questions:


  • Is the proposed solution desirable (from the user’s/customer’s point of view - is it something they really need)?
  • Is the proposed solution viable from a business point of view (brand alignment, value back to the business, finance, and/or strategic ROI, building on the strengths of your current operational capabilities)?
  • And is it feasible (can it be built with the resources available to us - people, time and money)?


An ideation session includes the customer/user research inputs specific to the problem-to-be-solved and aims to fully define the problem/opportunity and its context, then diverges on possible ways to address it (blue sky mining). Once possible solutions have been identified and rated (using dotmocracy), I recommend using the above-described DVF framework to converge on the best creativity-819371_1920.jpgpossible solution. 


This process should involve all the people who are responsible for executing the solution from its customer-facing ‘surface’ to its back-end technical ‘core.’ The outputs of ideation sessions are artifacts:


  • Journey maps (shared understanding of the experience and how to deliver it)
  • A risk register and issues log
  • The measurements and metrics of success
  • Possibly an early prototype of the solution to share with stakeholders and test with users (to reduce the risk of building the wrong thing).


Integrated design processes should validate assumptions, reduce project risks, speed up execution, and reduce defects or rework. It might get your product or service to market quicker and resonate more with your audiences. As Limina’s co-founder and principal Jon Fukuda explained, “You're driving a double bottom line-- capturing the revenue from the customer market-side and you're also getting it from [reduced] expenditure through efficiencies. Of course, this takes a level of investment. So, our guidance for this is really to look at the way that you engineer things. It doesn't matter if you are still caught in a waterfall model or if you're adopting Agile frameworks or if you're in continuous integration, you still need to understand what are the processes you do to support your product. [Ask yourself], what are the various roles that participate in that process, what are the artifacts that support them coming together, and then which touchpoints are improved by those artifacts along with your process models? Once you have a good sense of that, then you can meaningfully construct these libraries and repositories that not just are useful for a designer, but also give developers and engineers a deeper understanding of why something was designed this way in the first place.”

 In my next post, I’ll examine questions around the cost of design integration.

 To download the results of Limina’s study, click here.

About Ian Stokol CCXP, PMP, PMI-ACP, AgilePM

With a blend of CX management disciplines, UX Design and project management skills, Ian has worked with organizations and led teams to understand their customers’ desired outcomes and then plan, align, create and deliver customer-centric experiences. As one of the 2019 CX Impact Award Winners, Ian continues to work in and study Customer Experience Management, Human-Centred Design and Project Management, bridging the gap between organizational strategy, its implementation and evolution. Ian is the Senior CX Manager in Monash University’s Strategic Marketing and Communications Team and a design league coach at the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF). 

About Limina

Limina is a user experience (UX) and technical design consultancy that helps Fortune 500 companies and government agencies simplify complex human-to-computer interactions by designing more intuitive, integrated digital user experiences. Limina’s discovery process helps clients uncover the needs and wants of their customers, rather than create a new product or service that they think customers want. Founded in 2003, Limina is based in Longmont, CO.