Plays

The Design Thinking Playbook is a repository of information designed to help make innovation a daily practice in our workplace. This page shows a full list of “Plays,” or tools you can use in your individual or small-group context today

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All Design Thinking Plays

6 Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats maximizes collaboration, stimulates creativity, and improves the team decision-making process.

Arrow Framework

No more ineffective meetings! The Arrow Framework helps teams develop meetings that have a realistic agenda, a stated purpose, a person or people responsible for leading, and actionable outcomes. 

Case Study

Defining done for a task or assignment creates shared expectations about outcomes or work products. Use this exercise at the beginning of a project to increase team transparency, accountability, and project success.

Cloud Grouping

Organizing a Post-Up into manageable segments with labels to help teams transition to a decision-making stage.

Defining Done

Defining done for a task or assignment creates shared expectations about outcomes or work products. Use this exercise at the beginning of a project to increase team transparency, accountability, and project success.

Design Charrette

The Design Charrette is a group process to sketch out design direction and garner input from the project team. It helps everyone think about the role of design in usability, and allows the team to approach one problem from multiple angles.

Empathy Map

Empathizing with your stakeholders by imagining what they think, see, hear, and do

Explain it Like I’m Five

Individual assumptions and jargon are harmful to the transparency and accountability needed for effective project work. This quick exercise helps teams build project clarity by imagining they are talking to a five-year-old they know.

Ladder Up

adder Up creates a project hierarchy to show how each project deliverable is contributing to the larger project purpose. It forces a project team to take a step back and make a definitive statement about how an element ladders up to the organization’s purpose and/or the project goal.

Narrative Outline

Narrative Outline

People listen to stories. So whether you are writing a slide presentation or writing content for public use, using the Narrative Outline play to think of the information you want to be conveyed as a story leads to more memorable messages and meaningful actions.

North Star

Developing concrete descriptors helps teams establish goals and inspiration at all stages of an innovation project. The North Star can also be used to evaluate project components along the way.

Personas

Imagining the motivations and habits of the people you serve will help your team foster empathy, and improve product and service offerings

Play Sequence: Telling Our Story

The “Telling Our Story” play sequence takes us through thinking about our audience, cutting down our jargon, and finally assembling a new story with our audience in mind.

Play Sequence: Practical Brainstorming

Practical Brainstorming combines the “divergent” exercise of a Post-Up with the “convergent” exercise of Cloud Grouping. It’s an effective way to explore these two modes of thinking in a single meeting.

Post-Up

The act of writing makes ideas into physical things. Using sticky notes, markers, and a large empty wall, teams can transform thoughts into artifacts that can be pointed to, sorted, and grouped. The Post-Up is a cornerstone of many divergent thinking exercises.

Negative photo of dinosaurs

Pre-Mortem

The Pre-Mortem sets teams up for success by exploring the ways that failure could happen.

Purpose Brief

Defining done for a task or assignment creates shared expectations about outcomes or work products. Use this exercise at the beginning of a project to increase team transparency, accountability, and project success.

Stakeholder Map

Brainstorming a list of the various types of people involved in or impacted by a project you’re undertaking

Stories of Success

Envisioning is a tactic with a proven track record in sports, behavioral healthcare, and the arts. This exercise offers the benefits of envisioning to project teams.


All Kata Plays

Define Obstacles

An obstacle is temporary roadblock that provides an opportunity to learn and make improvements.

Define the Challenge Statement

The first step is to define the purpose or why for the challenge. It should be meaningful, frequent enough to measure, process oriented, customer focused and something not too easy.

Develop a Current Condition

Define current pattern of work and document it. This is where you create your flow chart, process map, and etc.

The 5 Questions (Coach’s Card)

The coach is a mentor that teaches the scientific thinking. The coach guides the team through the Kata process, but not provide the solution.


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Coaching Kata

Kata is a practical four-step model of scientific thinking and acting, for achieving challenging goals. It makes continuous improvement through the scientific problem-solving method of plan, do, check, act (PDCA) a daily habit.

Cross-Functional Teams

Cross-functional teams are foundational to collaborative innovation work. These are teams that represent all of the different ideas, skills, and authority required to complete a team-driven project successfully.

Design Thinking Toolbox

Design Thinking Toolbox

Empower your team with a to-go kit of the tools required for most design thinking tasks at any time. A portable Design Thinking Toolbox can turn any room into a collaborative workspace.

Ideas

Kata or Design Thinking

When do we use Kata or Design Thinking? There is no right or wrong answer to which methodology is best used to solve a problem. They are both an iterative problem solving methodology.

Ottawa County’s Design Thinking Process

By understanding and regularly using innovative tools and methods in our daily work, we will put people first in our efforts to deliver high quality services that meet actual needs in our communities.

Pairing

Learn how to increase success by putting two minds on a task. The principle of pairing comes from the software industry, where Software companies learned that asking developers to literally share a keyboard forced them to solve more problems while they did their work, rather than after they said it was done.