• Peter Biro

Design Thinking in Learning & Development

Design Thinking is probably most widely used in the tech industry for creating human-centered IT / app interfaces. At the same time, the #designthinking process can be used in #learninganddevelopment to build better (more engaging, more practical,...) Learning Programs.

We are big fans of Design Thinking and Design Sprints at Lighthouse Organizational Development and have been using these methodologies in our Learning Program design for a long time. Probably our most favorite characteristic is how they connect the creative and structured sides of any design and development process by processualizing innovation and making sure good ideas are tested and executed.


Let’s take a look at the Design Thinking process:

  1. Empathize – Before starting to build your learning program/product, you need to understand your learner/customer first. This step can include conducting in-depth interviews, creating learner /user Personas, and answering the questions: ’Who are we designing for?’

  2. Define – Building on the data you gathered in the previous step, now it’s time to transform them into insights and answer questions about your learner/customer like ‘What are their needs?’ ‘What are their challenges?’

  3. Ideate – In this step, we focus on coming up with as many ideas and potential solutions as possible and focusing on the question ‘How might we best serve our learner?’ How might we help them overcome their challenges and fulfill their needs?’ This step is all about connecting your understanding of your learner with potential solutions.

  4. Prototype – In this step, it’s all about choosing the best ideas that we want to prototype and later test. Prototyping before actual development is especially important for large-scale Learning Programs where the development of the actual solution is both time and budget-intensive.

  5. Test- Finally, we test the prototype with key learners/customers/stakeholders in order to get their immediate feedback and be able to make changes to our design before kicking off development. It is worth being very pragmatic in this step because it is easier to go back to the drawing board at this stage than after months and a considerable portion of the overall budget is already invested into the development of the final learning program/product.

This process can be repeated as many times as necessary until we can best fulfill learners' actual, needs and help them close knowledge gaps.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on Design Thinking in Learning & Development from a participant, L&D Manager, or trainer/facilitator perspective!


If you liked this article please give it a like and feel free to connect with me here or on LinkedIn at Peter Biro.

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