Let’s do a fun design thinking exercise! Learn about the d.school’s fundamental values with this walk-through group exercise; including a PDF print-out accompanying each step.

Cover for Walk Me Through Your Phone

The project we are showing you today is an iteration of the d.school’s iconic Wallet Project. The original wallet project was created as an introduction to design thinking.

Design thinking exercise step by step

Analogue to the Wallet project, Walk Me Through Your Phone is an immersive activity meant to give participants a full cycle through the design thinking process in a brief time frame. It uses something very basic everybody today can connect with: a phone. The project itself introduces you to the fundamental values of the design thinking: human-centred design, a bias towards action, and a culture of iteration and rapid prototyping. Note that this is a preview into a broad spectrum, there are many more methods and activities that the term ‘design thinking’ encompasses.

A physical artefact allows for immediate recall of experiences

Why did we choose a mobile phone as the starting point? By today, practically everyone has some experience with a mobile phone. Its contents, preferences and installed apps have the potential to evoke a range of meaning and in the larger context it's a very personal object. The mobile phone as a starting point enables a wide range of potential innovation outcomes, while empathy is key since the ties to our phone border to even being intimate. Having a physical artefact in-hand allows for immediate recall of experiences (participants can gain empathy for one another in the room). And at the end, everybody has it in their pockets always ready to go online.

Transform the topic into any other exercise

It is certainly possible to facilitate a similar project with a different topic — and you may choose to in order to amp up a particular aspect you think is important for your group of participants. For example, we have done the ‘oral-hygiene project’ to make it more personal and had participants observe their partners in their homes previous to the beginning of the workshop. We also do a ‘redesign the gift-giving experience’ version, with the aim to encourage participants to create services, experiences, and systems. If you decide to change the topic [you can simply change the instructions for the first two steps], be mindful of the considerations we listed above and scope it in a way that is both wide-open to possibilities but also manageable for participants.

Now, onward to the user-centered design exercise Walk Me Through Your Phone. Please download the PDF file. Ready, steady, go!