Q:What is Design Thinking?


“Design Thinking is a process and mindset, implemented in daily work that supports and encourages collaborative creativity to solve problems in a holistic and user-centred way.” (Hasso-Plattner-Institut, 2018). It encourages to have an open mind.  According to the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (D.School), when using DT to tackle problems the aim is to seek a “sweet spot of feasibility, viability and desirability as you take into account the real needs and desires of your customers”.

It is a methodology that fosters creativity “for innovating routinely” and looks beyond the surface symptoms to find new ways of empathising. It constantly reminds a business that they are designing for real people (Kelley and Kelley 2013, p.4,9,21-22).


Q: What is the Design Thinking Process?

Design Thinking is a non-linear process that starts off by defining a hypothesis. It follows a series of six stages for design driven innovation. The stages “do not have to follow any specific order and they can often occur in parallel and be repeated iteratively.” (Dam and Siang, 2019).

Q: What is the Design Thinking stage, ‘Understand’?


Stage one is a “plan thinking process” (Pandey, 2018). Based on the target audience defined in the hypothesis, business researchers immerse themselves in unfamiliar environments, interact with experts and role-play customer scenarios. They empathize with real people to identify feelings, needs, desires and motivations, which helps them to observe and takeaway insights that inspire and provoke fresh new ideas.
Understanding can be done by paying attention to customer feedback, grievances and by asking questions. (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.22-24,45-46). The main aim in this stage is to understand what users “think, feel, require, do and say” (Pandey,
2018) and search for pain points and latent needs (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.45-46).


Q: What is the Design Thinking process stage, ‘Observe’?


Stage two involves observing user actions and interactions. In order to have a clear vision, researchers “must build up a more profound comprehension of clients” to identify the main issues. (Pandey, 2018). Shadowing and interviewing are common techniques for gaining inspiration (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.22-24). Researchers “converse with individuals about what they are doing, make inquiries and ponder what they see.” (Pandey, 2018).

One way is to “play detective in pursuit of insight”, where researchers can go to a shop and observe how people are interacting with products. Insights regarding interests can be gathered by observing body language. Another way is to “interview some customers” by
asking open-ended questions leading to receiving a range of answers, researchers may not have thought of. (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.45-46).

However, “field research entails more than simply asking people what they want”. Here empathizing plays a key role as it can reveal “surprising insights that can help distinguish your idea or approach” (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.85,90). Researchers should also
observe what people don’t do and listen to what they don’t say (Brown and Katz, 2009, p.43)


Q: What is the Design Thinking process stage, ‘defining point of view’?


Sometimes known as users ‘point of view’, stage three involves sense-making. Researchers take user insights from understanding and observation, to redefine the hypothesis. This is then organized in the form of an ‘empathy map’ (figure 2). what they don’t say (Brown and Katz, 2009, p.43)

Empathy Map (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.222)


Q: What is the Design Thinking process stage, ‘defining point of view’?


Stage four “is about imagination and fun” (Pandey, 2018). Keeping in mind the users’ point of view, a problem question is framed using: “How Might We…”


  • ‘How’ suggests improvement is always possible
  • ‘Might’ allows the consideration of wild ideas and gives a higher chance of breakthrough
  • ‘We’ suggests ownership of the challenge by the group


Ideation helps researchers decide where to focus their energy. The issue of design within reach is also settled here (Pandey, 2018).

Using this question and the technique of storytelling e.g. Pixar stories, creative thinkers (researchers) explore a range of possibilities and generate multiple ideas, based on insights gathered and problems identified. Best ideas arise as a result of collaborating with other people.
One has to acknowledge they do not have all the 14 answers (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.22- 24,103,138-139).


Ideas could be the wildest or most impractical, but none are considered implausible or are rejected. (Pandey, 2018). Ideation helps researchers decide where to focus their energy. The issue of design within reach is also settled here (Pandey, 2018).


Q: What is the Design Thinking process stage, ‘Prototype’?


The most promising ideas are advanced to stage five- the iterative rounds of rapid prototyping. Prototypes are an “embodiment of your idea.” They help overcome resistance of an idea and make “the new vision of the customer experience so tangible”.


They are the best way to make progress towards goals. Rapid prototyping is quick and dirty which enables researchers to explore a range of ideas without spending too much time or money on one particular idea. (Kelley and Kelley, 2013, p.22-24,130,137).


“A prototype can be a draw, demonstrate, or a cardboard box.” (Pandey, 2018). According to Brown and Katz (2009, p.105), prototyping slows companies down to speed them up. “By taking the time to prototype our ideas, we avoid costly mistakes such as becoming too complex too early and sticking with a weak idea for too long.”  

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Extract of BSc Management project report, “Design Thinking and its use in Internet Of Things” by Devika Punchhi, CASS Business School, City University of London, 2019

Presales or Sales Consulting job is one of the main axes of Information technology hardware & software vendors. At the crossroad of sales and technical, they are inevitable for any question, issue or problem related to a deal. Building a pre-sales experience takes many years and long experiences and is key to succeed in business. Through the last years, this job has drastically changed. From being the technical companion of the Account Manager to the Technical Solution Specialist or Business Specialist to finally become the Conductor of the Technical Strategy/Approach to the account with a wide vision to “push” more profitable solutions. But as the IT industry got global, restructured to create matrix organizations and decided to adopt a policy of transformation the landscape of the “Presales” completely changed. IT companies decided to stop advising their customers through the “seeming free” presales channel and started to sell them “billable” consulting services instead. This policy also amplified the IT Integrator’s market share as they offered their services to the customers too but as more “neutral” than hardware/software editors. Presales and sales had to adapt and tried to follow the delicate path between “doing for free” and “selling” tasks. A struggle began on a deal/customer basis to draw up this variable frontier and decide up-to what extent the task is “deal included” or “deal necessary” and from which point it should be considered “consulting services”. With time going forward, the role of the presales become more and more complex with overload in all domains (sales support, sales training, product/service learning, customer prospection, marketing, consulting services coordination, customers/integrator relation management, sales methodologies updates, legal, administrative,….).


All this in more global environments involving much travel, remote working and taking much more effort than before with an endless number of obligations as IT companies financial policies became tougher and more complex. The hardest thing about that is that a systematically increasing “request for excellence” is asked from presales. They are asked to have knowledge about almost everything related to the business and technical side. This challenge made almost impossible for presales to do their job properly or at least to catch-up their breeze between missions and gives them a reduced chance for evolving in their jobs. So what, why are we speaking about this now, it has somehow worked for many years?


My vision is that we are really reaching a limit in everything. A limit in humans’ capacities to follow-up with these huge changes and an efficiency issue as the effort provided is no longer proportional to the result obtained. We are facing complexity almost everywhere, in an organization's structure, processes, created silos, government’s laws, sustainability agreements and on top of that change is becoming faster. The questions arising are many, how could we do better? Be more efficient? Keep costs within limit? Become more sustainable? Continue to respect laws? Continue to be profitable? Remain within the human limits? My opinion is that we need to reinvent many things, our vision, our expectations, our way of doing our human behavior and that’s where Design Thinking comes. Built on empathy for others, on sharing knowledge, on combining multi-disciplinary visions of problems, on prototyping ideas, on learning from failures and on iteration till success, Design Thinking appears as common sense, as a personal mindset and as a team culture to work together, try together and succeed together.


Let us imagine the presales job done differently for example animating a Design Thinking workshop for a day in which multiple stakeholders are invited sales, presales, R&D, consulting, marketing, customers and partners are taking part and addressing a specific challenge like reinventing the customers’ strategy for digital transformation or redesigning the BIGDATA Strategy or planning a Change Management process, or drafting an RFI/RFP or reinventing an IT vendor/editor/customer partnership strategy or redesigning a customer global approach.


So many subjects that would get use of the experience of all participants and their know-how, would get out all unexpected problems on the table, discuss ways of addressing them, innovating them in their resolution. Definitely, in one day a huge amount of knowledge will rise-up from such a workshop, a rich experience will be shared by all parties, a better understanding of each other’s role, duty and inspirations will build. An enormous amount of ideas will appear on the horizon to address the coming challenges and opportunities for solving them will appear. That’s only one example, but others can exist, for example training presales to systematically use Design Thinking to train on company’s new methodologies, new concepts, new products or services in a simpler, faster and more playful way.


Design Thinking also contains a large amount of habits, methodologies and best practices that can be used in many situations like transforming classical, hierarchical, non-engaging, passive, saturating, inefficient and boring PowerPoint presentations into modern, interactive, collaborative, attractive, efficient, engaging workshop sessions where people speak, exchange, learn and do together.


Doing Design Thinking will inculcate new habits; produce a mindset change, a cultural disruption and a ramp-up in efficiency. It will generate more implication of individuals, rise-up of substantial discussions; provoke engagement and motivation of teams. All these aspects will have substantial impacts of organization’s behavior, employee, business and future.


Design Thinking has come out to light since more than twenty years from the Design and Architecture world and had been adapted, used and produced successes and transformations in all domains. Time has come to change the Presales everyday struggle from pain tasks to gain realms… Try it, you’ll understand it.


Karim Nafie

Founder Novalist Thinking



"Il y a les leaders et il y a ceux qui dirigent. Les dirigeants occupent une position de pouvoir ou d'influence. Le leaders eux, nous inspirent"

Simon Sinek, Start with Why: Comment les grands meneurs inspirent chacun à agir


Après avoir sillonné le monde de l’industrie informatique, le logiciel et le matériel, ou j’ai eu de multiples activités dans plusieurs pays. Je me suis rendu compte que la réussite et le progrès ne peuvent dépendre uniquement d’un bon logiciel, d’un matériel fiable ou même d’un Chef de Projet talentueux. J’ai compris qu’une bonne équipe, composée de membres motivés, travaillants ensemble de manière organisée, construisant sur leurs observations et expériences de chaque jour est l’élément le plus différenciant.


Certains s’imagineront que je parle de la ”Dreamteam” montée à partir des membres les plus talentueux, diplômées des plus grandes écoles et ayant gravi les échelons des entreprises, mais je parle d’une autre équipe. Une équipe d’ employés de l’entreprise, quel que soit l’âge, le sexe ou le poste occupé. Ceux que l’on rencontre chaque jour et qui luttent pour faire travail, ceux qui se battent pour leurs principes, ceux qui ont accumulé leur une expérience petit à petit et qui sont ouverts et disposés à partager leurs idées et inspirations.


Et c’est exactement ce que j’ai trouvé quand j’ai découvert, il y a des années le Design Thinking. J’y ai trouvé tout ce à quoi je crois et pour lequel je me suis toujours battu. J’ai trouvé dans le Design Thinking l’approche, la méthodologie et la culture de ”L’intelligence Collaborative”. Le DT permet à n’importe quelle entreprise d’utiliser intelligemment le talent ses employés pour construire des solutions maison, à des coûts abordables, qui répondent au défi de l’entreprise tout en respectant leses délais.


Imaginez une entreprise qui doit adresser un défi métier et qui va monter plusieurs équipes parmi ses collaborateurs, fournisseurs, partenaires et même ses clients. Ensuite,  les équipes vont commencer à aborder ce défi et le prototyper. De cette manière elles vont faire ce qui est le plus difficile:, créer un prototype mature de la solution “techniquement faisable, économiquement viable mais avant tout, humainement désirable”. Des experts auront parfaitement leur place au sein de ces équipes et auront pour rôle de transformer ce prototype en une solution finale, s’assurer du respect des standards, usages et meilleures pratiques. On peut imaginer que le produit, issu de cette approche novatrice, sera certainement remarquable.


J’ai été tellement passionné par le Design Thinking, que j’ai décidé me l’approprier pour tenter de changer le monde, pour qu’il soit plus collaboratif, simple, éco-responsable, agréable et sans doute plus humain. J’ai créé une startup Novalist Thinking pour aider les entreprises à saisir la valeur du Design Thinking, l’adopter et en faire la base de toute interaction humaine à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur de l’entreprise. J’ai créé ce blog, pour parler de ma passion, pour partager mon expérience avec tous pour diffuser le Design Thinking là où, il me semble que c’est nécessaire.


Je dédie ce blog à toute personne convaincue des bienfaits de la collaboration dans l’entreprise et plus largement, ouverte à apprendre et prête à partager son savoir sur le Design Thinking. J’invite toutes celles et ceux qui croient en ce que je croie, de m’aider à faire connaitre cette approche, à l’utiliser et à construire des projets via mes réseaux sociaux twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook et YouTube.


Que le Design Thinking soit pour vous, viennent à vous et reste avec vous.



Trainer, Coach & Design Thinker.

Passionné par le Design Thinking et certifié du Hasso Plattner Institute – School Of Design Thinking de Potsdam (Allemagne), j’ai créé Novalist Thinking pour aider les client à concevoir des solutions innovantes pour leur marché via l’empathie et le travail en équipe.


Traditionally businesses have focused on applying scientific and mathematical solutions to the needs of society, without understanding real needs (Plattner, Meinel and Leifer, 2015). Now “businesses are taking a more human-centered approach because people’s expectations are evolving.” (Brown and Katz, 2009, p.177). To assist businesses with this mindset shift, Design Thinking (DT) with its human-centric approach is a methodology that can be useful to solve “all problems whether business, social, global, creative, legal, medical etc. as human problems.” (Sa, 2018).


Design Thinking is an emerging concept among businesses. More and more businesses are becoming successful and making billions by integrating DT into their processes. Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and IBM state that the use of DT has helped them develop competitive advantage that drives business growth (Pikover, no date).

Moreover, with the advent of technology, the world is becoming more digital and trends are shifting from “Internet of People” to “Internet of Things” (IoT) (Siddiqui, 2017). New technologies are bringing about evolution and disruption in societies and consumer expectations. Many companies are going through digital transformation to be able to keep up with the digital era (Forbes, 2018).

Extract of BSc Management project report, “Design Thinking and its use in Internet Of Things” by Devika Punchhi, CASS Business School, City University of London, 2019

"There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead, inspire us”

Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


After spending years around the world in the IT software & Hardware Industry, where I was responsible for multiple activities in various countries, I realized that achievements and progress cannot be done only through a good software, a reliable hardware or even a talented project manager. I understood that a good team, composed of motivated members, working together in an organized way, building on their everyday observations and life experience, is the most differentiating element.


Some people will think of the DreamTeam based on the most talented individuals graduated from the highest quote schools and having climbed all steps in organizations as the only solution, but I am speaking of another team. A team of employees from all jobs, all profiles, all ages in the organizaion. People that we meet every day, people that have struggled to do their job, that have fought for their principles, that have accumulated experience in every step and are opened to share their ideas and thoughts. That’s exactly what I have found when I discovered Design Thinking years ago. I found in it what I have always believed in and fought for. I realized that it brings the approach, the methodology and the culture to “Collaborative Intelligence”. It enables any organization to smartly use the talent of its employees to build in-house solutions to answer the organization’s challenges while respecting time with an affordable price.


Imagine a company that have to address a business challenge and will create several teams of employees, suppliers, partners and even customers. Then they start addressing this challenge and prototyping it. It will thus make the most difficult, that is creating a mature prototype of the solution that is “technically feasible, economically viable but before all humanly desirable”. Of course, experts have their place in these teams and their role in transforming this prototype to a final solution and ensure all respect of standards, usages and best practices. The result would definitely be amazing.


I was so passionate about Design Thinking that I decided to adopt it as my approach to change the world to a more collaborative, simpler, sustainable and desirable place and hence, I created a startup, 'Novalist Thinking' to help organizations capture the value of Design Thinking, adopt it and make it the basis of every human interaction inside and outside their organization. I created this blog, to write about my passion, to share my experience with others and to spread the Design Thinking culture everywhere.


This blog welcomes anyone who is convinced by collaboration, open to learn and willing to share his knowledge about Design Thinking. I invite everyone who believes in what I believe, help me do it, use it and build on it through my social medias twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube).


May the Design Thinking be for you, come to you and stay with you.



Trainer, Coach & Design Thinker.

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Passionate about Design Thinking and certified from the D-School - Hasso-Plattner Institute at Potsdam (Germany), I founded Novalist Thinking to help customers design innovative solutions for their markets through Empathy & Team working.

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