Lean Start-up and Design Thinking Workshops

Thinking deeper and working leaner.

From small design shops to global corporations, there’s a debate raging over the best way to create innovative products. On one side, there’s the methodology of design thinking, born in the ‘80s and championed by respected design firms like IDEO. In the other corner sits the challenger, the lean startup method.

Companies are thriving from technologies that only launched in recent history and the race is on to optimize the process for conceiving, designing, building and testing products. The best solution requires a blend of both Lean Startup and Design Thinking.

What’s Design Thinking & Lean Startup?

Design Thinking, The notion of design as a “way of thinking” can be traced to Herbert A. Simon’s 1969 book The Sciences of the Artificial, and to Robert McKim’s 1973 book Experiences in Visual Thinking.The concept employs a human-centered approach to identifying opportunities for business innovation. The design thinking process is oriented around empathy and understanding the user through observation, interviews, and immersion. The Design Thinking method allows for reflection points along the way, enabling stakeholders to see progress and provide input. The Design thinking process is a powerful tool for understanding people and opportunities for new products or services. The steps of “Understand-Observe-Synthesize-Ideate-Prototype-Iterate” can lead to solutions more quickly than testing discrete behaviors that are out of context, which is often the case with the lean method. Design thinking can provide a solid understanding of the user’s motives, challenges, and opportunities that inform the ideation phase of a project in a short amount of time, providing a greater chance of success than testing assumptions in the wild.

Lean Startup method, promoted in Eric Ries’ NY Times best-selling book, is an iterative approach to building a business that relies heavily on user data and quick product development cycles. Lean startup favors the scientific method — hypothesis and testing — rather than testing behind closed doors or releasing full featured products. Lean Startup methods are designed to identify product opportunities in a highly unpredictable environment with a lean “build-measure-learn” process. The goal is to quickly test ideas and make changes to the product, get feedback and act on the feedback.

The question for these larger companies and organizations is, “How can we move faster?” Lean and agile development practices are instructive in terms of getting to market faster because they rely on quick development and user validation cycles. Rapid iteration, based on analytics, provides insight into real users behavior, and in real-time. This data, along with fresh thinking about product improvements, will help nurture and grow products.

Lean Start-up & Design Thinking  (2-day Workshop)

Design thinking can provide valuable ways to understand people and the environment. Lean Start up methods provide fast way of iterating products. We believe the ideal process for developing  products is to take the best from both, and uniquely apply them to every product.

In this workshop, we pair Design Thinking and branding strategy with agile methods of lean start-up, using your own product idea or project data, encouraging quick validation and team collaboration to think deeper and work leaner.


Lean Start-up Overview
Design Thinking Overview
(Iterating on these next steps)

  • Ideation
  • Review: Prototyping + Feedback
  • Retrospective: Feedback + action
  • Pitch + feedback
  • Retrospective: Feedback + action

Resources beyond the workshop

Workshop customization:

If you would like to learn more about creating a Design Thinking/Lean Start-up workshop for your organization, we begin with a conversation to understand your business goals. Please feel free to contact us to get the conversation started.