Chapter 7The Key Roles of Stories and Prototypes in Design Thinking1

Mark Zeh


Stories and prototypes play essential roles within a design thinking process. They are the “glue” that binds the process together. Together, they contain both the problem to be solved and a hypothesis about how to solve it.

Stories and prototypes serve as a means of communication between customers and product developers, enabling the mapping of rational and emotional customer needs to concepts and ideas. This chapter contains a description of the roles of stories and prototypes within a design thinking product development process and discussion on how to create and use them. These are illustrated with an example from industry.

7.1 A Design Thinking Product Development Framework

Since the product development processes in every organization differ by things such as number of phases, important milestones, and so on, they must integrate design thinking into their processes in differing ways (Brown, 2008, 2009; Martin, 2009). In this section, a general product development process will be used to describe how stories and prototypes are created and evolve throughout the development cycle.

The product development process diagrammed in Figure 7.1 has been divided up into three general phases of work: Identify User Needs and Find the Value Proposition; Build, Test, Iterate, and Refine; and Validate and Communicate Broadly.

Figure 7.1 Three general product development process blocks and their ...

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