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In the “Define Stage,” the team makes sense of what has been learned from customer interviews; identifies themes and patterns and extracts the most significant insights into customer problems and needs. The goal in this phase is to identify the right problem to solve and develop actionable business statements.


Next the group engages in an ideation process, building on each other’s ideas to establish a creative momentum and generate as many innovative ideas as possible that take you beyond obvious solutions. Only then does the group apply analytical approaches—establishing joint criteria and selecting a few viable ideas.


No one can truly know for sure whether or not they will like a product or experience through speculation. The idea in human-centered design is to allow users to experience a minimal but representative aspect of a new product, solution or idea and then offer you feedback. You then “perfect” your product through a collaborative, back and forth process of feedback and correction until it meets customers’ needs and expectations. In the last portion of the workshop, participants will create prototypes of the most viable solutions they decide on. Prototypes can be anything—a model of a product, a story board, a skit, visual design, a sample of an experience, etc. Depending on your situation, the workshop will truncate the process of prototype testing to allow a testing process that elicits a small degree of customer feedback and engages in follow-up corrections. The team emerges with prototypes of new products and solutions that it can continue to test and refine with various customer groups, and a new collaborative process for getting from empathy to concrete and practical solutions.