4. Overcoming Challenges

In this section, you will learn more ways to integrate the design thinking mindset into each phase of the design process.

After completing this section, you will be able to...

  • Address common challenges related to design thinking

In this module, we’ve attempted to demonstrate that there is no uniform way of integrating design thinking, or even a single way to define it. Additionally, there may be clear differences in how novices of design-related work and expert designers use this approach. As a result of this flexibility, you may face some challenges in the use of these approaches.

Here are few common challenges–along with how to overcome them–in using design thinking:

Buy in from stakeholders (like youth, administration, community partners) and how to talk about it

  • Design thinking can be interpreted in many ways. Consider your choice of words. Terminology from the design world may not translate seamlessly to other people and contexts. Even the concept of “design thinking” may be intimidating. Other phrases or words to describe the work you and youth are doing can include: “project-based”, “design-based”, or “group-centered”.
  • Think smaller scale. To begin applying the design thinking approach, you can start with small, simple projects or parts of the design process that demonstrate value or meet your needs. It may prove difficult to start out with a larger, ambitious design thinking project if it does not have the right support in place. You may use some techniques (like observations), but not others (prototypes) for certain projects.
  • Apply it in the right situations and for the right people. A design thinking approach may not fit for every problem or group of youth you encounter. If it is a people-focused challenge, then a design thinking approach may apply.

How do I keep order and clarity in a studio or workshop experience?

  • Define the rules early on so youth have expectations about what they are to do. Lay out the goals. End results of a design session could be one prototype, sketch, or idea.
  • Provide helpful examples or models of designs and outcomes so youth are given some structure or inspiration about what is possible.
  • Describe to youth how design professionals typically work in a studio environment. For instance, they are often allowing team members to focus while also checking in with peers for feedback.
  • Also see the section on Facilitating Design Thinking.

challenges and solutions

What are some challenges you anticipate when integrating design thinking into your programs? List a few, then think through ways you can overcome these challenges.

Design Thinking KWL

Return to the KWL worksheet from the beginning of the Design Thinking module. Fill out the “Learn” column with the most important things you learned from this module. Was anything you “Knew” incorrect or incomplete? Did you learn everything from your “Want to Learn” column?

Design Thinking KWL Worksheet (DOCX)

What do you already know about design thinking? What do you want to learn about design thinking? What did you learn from this module about design thinking?