Solving problems with the double diamond design process model

Traditional project management starts with a brief, and you go through several steps to get to a solution. In the Double Diamond, this is called the design phase and involves a period of divergence followed by convergence. The divergence and convergence process is done twice, first to go from problem to design brief, and second to go from the brief to the solution.

Divergence and convergence

The most crucial concept in solving any problem is to have multiple ideas and then chose the best. Before committing to a solution to develop, you need first to think up and test multiple ideas to find the best one.

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.

Wikipedia

Convergent thinking is the type of thinking that focuses on coming up with the single, well-established answer to a problem.

Wikipedia

You will have done this process of divergent then convergent thinking in school many times. First, you brainstorming as many ideas as possible, not worrying about the quality of what you are writing, then you choose the ones that sound the most suitable and investigate them further. Finally, you select one single idea that performs best in your tests. This process was to train you on how to think about a problem and come to a solution.

Designing things right and designing the right things

Designing things right requires a design process where the problem definition is used to develop, test, and deliver a solution. You collate many potential solutions by generating ideas and then trying them. You can then deliver solutions that work to users and listen to their feedback to refine your solution further. 

The best designers spend time designing the right thing first by researching the problem to create a problem definition or design brief. You need to gain insights into the challenge through exhaustive research and then scope down the focus by exploring this research to come to a clear definition.

The Double Diamond design process model

The British Design Council published the double diamond as a visual representation of the design and innovation process in 2004, adapting it from similar iterative models used by IDEO and the divergence-convergence model. The aim was to produce a simple way to share a strategic approach to a design and innovation project. The Double Diamond was published alongside the Methods Bank resource to define the British Design Council’s innovation process.

The double diamond collects divergent and convergent thinking ideas and design principles and the Methods bank to create an innovation process that you can use in any field.

The design process has four stages:

  • Discover – question the problem and research to identify users needs
  • Define – make sense of the discovery phase findings to create a design brief
  • Develop – develop, test, and refine multiple potential solutions
  • Deliver – Select and prepare a final solution for launch

Design principles:

  • Be people-centred
  • Communicate visually and inclusively
  • Collaborate and co-create
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate

Methods bank

  • Explore: challenges, need, and opportunities
  • Shape: prototypes insights and visions
  • Build: ideas, plans, and expertise 

Learn more on the Design Council’s website.

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