Skip to content
O'Reilly home
Design Thinking

Design Thinking: 90-Minute Introduction

A quick hands-on introduction to the design thinking approach

This event has ended.

What you’ll learn and how you can apply it

Participants will understand:

  • The basic principles and activities of design thinking
  • Basic research methods and the inquiry-driven mindset

Participants will be able to:

  • Begin mapping their user’s current journey and experience
  • Identify assumptions in their thinking in order to turn those assumptions into research questions

This course is for you because…

  1. You’re a product owner with a business or design background and you need to refocus on your users and customers.
  2. You’re a salesperson or consultant with an industry-specific background and you need to uncover your customer's end users’ needs to provide them with meaningful, customized solutions.
  3. You’re a designer with a traditional design background and you need to uncover your users’ needs to inform your design work and collaborate with other disciplines.


  • Basic understanding of the design thinking approach and some practice in its application
  • Basic understanding of team dynamics and a leadership perspective

Learning Activities:

Assignments prior to the live scheduled meetings online:

Read: Gartner blog:

Read: Harvard Business Review: Design Thinking Comes of Age

Read: IDEO & Design Thinking 60 Minutes:

Read: What is Design Thinking?

Watch: Transforming healthcare for children and their families: Doug Dietz at TEDxSanJoseCA 2012

Complete: One Homework Exercise: Your User’s Current Experience; worksheet PDF and example are provided.

Additional Course Materials - Download:



The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing.

Introduction: What is design thinking and how is it being applied today? (15 min)

  • Instructor will introduce the basic principles and practices of design thinking, deliver a brief case study of its application at a large-scale company (IBM), and facilitate an introductory activity.
  • Participants will learn the basics as well as the fundamental vocabulary and reflect on their personal favorite experience they have had as users.
  • Participants will share the “whys” of these experiences: why they value them as users; the instructor will pull out common themes.

Research, reality, and the beginner’s mindset (10 min)

  • Instructor will explain the value of the beginner’s mindset and having an inquiry-based attitude. Basic user observation and research methods will be explained as well as the process of identifying and testing assumptions.
  • Participants will learn the basics of research and how they might begin practicing user observation or enabling others to do so.

Practice an iterative design thinking cycle (40 min)

Instructor will facilitate participants through:

  • Assumption identification and question documentation using the preassigned, as-is user journey map  
  • Q&A 
  • A basic research plan to resolve assumptions and questions found
  • Q&A 
  • Translating pain points into opportunity statements  
  • Q&A 
  • Rapid-fire brainstorming on those opportunities  
  • (combined opportunity statements and brainstorming)
  • Q&A
  • Participants will follow verbal and written instructions in the pre-downloaded worksheets for this series of activities in order to experience a design thinking mindset first hand. They will post their activities as screenshots or photos to the Slack channel as each is completed.

Break (5 min)

Reflection and Q&A (20 min)

  • Instructor will facilitate one participant sharing with the larger group their sequence of design thinking activities by photographing panels of their worksheets to post in Slack in a sequential order. Instructor will point out themes common to this example and other themes seen throughout the activities posted by all participants.  
  • The instructor will then take questions and wrap up the session with some take-away points. Participants will end the course with practical, foundational design thinking experience and motivation to learn more and move forward with the user in mind.

Your Instructor

  • Jordan Shade

    After growing up in the deserts of rural Texas and the Middle East, Jordan Shade lived on and off in Austin, Texas for 12 years after originally landing there to study fine arts at the University of Texas. She learned about design thinking by accident— practicing it while dabbling in early childhood development sometime after college—and then decided to pursue a Masters in Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Jordan’s work in grad school ranged from cocreation with workers’ unions to studying how design translates into multiple languages and cultures in Beirut, Lebanon. She has led design research on analytics products for IBM and now focused on design thinking facilitation as a practice for IBM Studios globally. Part of her work at IBM includes applying design research skills to the adoption and practice of design thinking across diverse teams, environments, and contexts to uncover patterns and develop enablement programs to support IBM’s massive cultural transformation.

Start your free 10-day trial

Get started

Want to learn more at events like these?

Get full access to O'Reilly online learning for 10 days—free.

  • checkmark50k+ videos, live online training, learning paths, books, and more.
  • checkmarkBuild playlists of content to share with friends and colleagues.
  • checkmarkLearn anywhere with our iOS and Android apps.
Start Free TrialNo credit card required.