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Introduction to the Course and the Design Thinking Mindsets

Overview of course and the mindsets which enable successful learning
Design Thinking Approach

Welcome to the course

Welcome to Design Thinking for Sustainable Development. This course offers you a chance to learn about Design Thinking in the best way possible – by actively participating in the process.

This course has been created in the same vein as WINTECs six hour face to face introductory workshop: Innovation in Design Thinking. This will be a lot of fun, so lets start by leaning into the uncertainty and have a look over the learning outcomes and the course syllabus.

The learning outcomes of the course are:

  • Apply design thinking tools to make decisions
  • Identify and solve a challenge associated with sustainable goals using Design Thinking
  • Create meaning from interview and secondary data
  • Recognise the design thinking stages and able to identify which stage of a project you may be in

Course Syllabus

The course syllabus is broken up into 4 weeks with 4 hours of activity a week. This learning will be broken up into short snippets of information in the form of a video or article, and then an activity to carry out. As mentioned earlier, the best way to learn the Design Thinking process is to carry it out so some activities will require you to leave your computer and talk to people!

  • Week 1: Introduction to Design Thinking and Empathy
  • Week 2: Define and Ideate
  • Week 3: Prototype and User Testing
  • Week 4: Deliver and Reflection


When we carry out Design Thinking it is important to be open to the process and so we use mindsets. Mindsets are attitudes that can empower our thinking and our creativity. The following are the Stanfords Design Thinking mindsets, which I have defined for our use:

  • Show don’t tell: This mindset is about communicating through experiences, visuals and stories. It is a storytelling approach that helps share ideas quickly.
  • Focus on Human Values: All Design thinking mindsets put the Human at the centre. This Mindset ensures Empathy is never lost.
  • Draft Clarity: This mindset is about keeping it simple. By keeping things simple people can under stander quicker – and create action quicker.
  • Embrace Experimentation: This mindset is about learning and thinking by creation. It is similar to show don’t tell except their is also another mindest at play fail fast. This means it is better to find out quickly when something doesn’t work and we can learn from that failure.
  • Be mindful of Process: This mindset relates to trusting the process. Accomplish the now before moving next to the next stage.
  • Bias toward Action: This mindset also relates to leaning into the uncertainty. Focus on action rather than thinking which will turn each activity into reality.
  • Radical Collaboration: This mindset is about including as many people from all backgrounds and experiences in your challenge as it takes a multidisciplinary approach to truly understand a problem

Mindsets are really important no matter the process, and there are many others that you can search for (e.g. IDEO, PDMA) but they all have a few things in common. Human centred, fail fast, lean into uncertainty, multidisciplinarity and show – don’t tell.

We’ll aim to do all of these (though multi disciplines will be the most tricky to experience in this online course).


Reflect on the Stanford mindsets and answer the following questions in the comments:

  • Which of the above Stanford mindsets do you think you do well?
  • Which do you think is the most challenging for you?
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Design Thinking for Sustainable Development

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