• Marc Curtis

Design Thinking 101



There are some foundation tools and methodologies that are built in to the DNA of innovation teams the world over, and this is no less true of the Lyreco Innovation team.


One of the guiding principles we adhere to is the notion of putting the end user (or customer) at the heart of any new initiative we want to run.

The idea of customer centricity is certainly not new, but we can all sometimes fall into bad habits. Does this sound familiar?

Customer: I have this challenge, can you help me solve it? Helpful company: We sure can! 6 months later... Helpful company: Here you go - we’ve fixed your challenge! Customer: Wait what?

Capturing a need is only the first step, however it can be easy to fall into the trap of jumping straight into finding a solution, building a new product or service and then getting all upset when the customer either doesn't want what you’ve created or feels that you’ve missed the mark in some way.


There’s some good news though. There’s a simple process that everyone can follow, it requires no special equipment and it almost guarantees that the end user/customer will be delighted with the results. This process is called Design Thinking.


Design Thinking is not rocket science. It is simply a process that focuses on observing, empathising and then co-creating solutions with the end user. Crucially, the user is involved in every step of the process. We typically share and validate ideas and prototypes with the end user many times.

Design Thinking Process


Front Loading Risk

Why do we do this?

Think about a classic project in steps.

  1. Identify challenge

  2. Define solution

  3. Build solution

  4. Test solution

  5. Launch final product

The problem with this is that it’s based on a whole bunch of assumptions. Assumptions are not a bad thing, but without validating those assumptions you’re opening yourself to a world of risk. Finding out that the product you’ve spent 6 months designing isn’t what the end user wanted is a costly way of learning.


Design Thinking carries the same risks, but it front loads them. You may discover, near the beginning of the process, that your solution is not want the end user needs - but learning about this at the beginning of the project is way less costly than finding out at the end. It also gives you the opportunity to try something else, and keep trying until you find something that is validated by the user. Then you can move on in the process, in the sure and certain knowledge that what you’re building is right for the challenge and the end user.


Our Lyreco Pioneers are currently learning about Design Thinking as the first stage of the Incubation Phase of the program. You too can access ALL of the content that they have access to by logging into Lyreco Pioneers.


The first video they will have watched is Schoolab’s Introduction to Design Thinking. You can watch it here!



If you are interested in learning more about design thinking, let us know. We're going to be running training sessions across the whole of the Lyreco Group in every country. Your country could be first!

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