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Design Thinking for Non-Designers

How to become user-centered at rapid speed

Naveen Raja

Design thinking is a proven and practical way to test, build, and solve complex user-centered problems at rapid speed. By bringing different disciplines like engineering, product management, and design into the mix, design thinking enables you to move quickly toward important product decisions. Join Naveen Raja to learn how to build a deeper understanding of your users and their experiences. With a focus on collaboration, Naveen walks you through the tools and knowledge you need to put design thinking to work in your projects.

Through a combination of lectures, hands-on activities, real-time reflection, and take-home action items to do individually or with your team, you’ll gain exposure to innovative resources and methods to fine-tune your delivery of design thinking and better understand your workflow. In three two-hour sessions, spread out over three consecutive weeks, this course will be a starting point for building your design thinking skills. By incorporating course activities into your daily workflow, you’ll be able to leverage the value of this powerful framework to align your team on the users you’re designing for, identify your customers’ problems, and deliver a better user experience.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The definition of design thinking in clear terms
  • How to leverage design thinking as a tool to drive user-centered product development

And you’ll be able to:

  • Use design thinking activities to align your team
  • Build and develop a deeper understanding of your users
  • Employ the design thinking framework to solve complex problems and recognize gaps in your products

This training course is for you because...

  • You are a developer working on a legacy or technically challenging product who needs to come up with new ideas of what the product could be.
  • You are a product manager who wants to take your product’s UX to the next level, and you need to understand what you’re building and how to deliver it.
  • You are an innovator who wants to understand your user and deliver an amazing product experience.



  • A basic understanding of the design thinking approach and general practical experience
  • Familiarity with team dynamics (ideally from a leadership perspective)

Recommended preparation:


Scoping a workshop for non-designers

Design thinking: A manual for innovation

Design thinking in the corporate DNA

IBM Design Thinking (website)

Kaiser Permanente’s innovation on the front lines


Create a high-level list of what you do on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. The focus here is to try and understand what your job function is and how you can collaborate with other disciplines by using design thinking on your team.

Materials and downloads needed:

  • A minimum of two Post-it notepads and three standard Sharpie markers
  • Download these worksheets, which we will use during the course

About your instructor

  • Naveen Raja is the Design Thinking Practice Lead for IBM Security. Since joining IBM, he has visioned, scoped, and scaled the practices of design thinking through facilitation. In his experience helping various teams in IBM, he is perfecting his recipe for how to help people to achieve more by using design. He is passionate about how people, places, and cultures intermix and the significance it can play on creating an experience.


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

Session 1: Introduction to Design Thinking

  • Design thinking basics in a modern context (10 minutes)
  • Q&A (10 minutes)
  • Understanding your users (20 minutes)
  • Exercise: Persona sketch—Identify how much or how little you know about your users (20 minutes)
  • Break (10 minutes)
  • Exercise: Stakeholder map—Better understand your user’s realm of influence (20 minutes)
  • Reflection and Q&A (30 minutes)

Homework: Discuss the stakeholder map or persona sketch with your team and identify any problems or comments

Session 2: Finding opportunities

  • Finding opportunities (20 minutes)
  • Exercise: Journey map—Map a user’s journey to learn what areas of the journey can be improved using design thinking (20 minutes)
  • Q&A (10 minutes)
  • Break (10 minutes)
  • Pain points and opportunities (15 minutes)
  • Exercise: Journey map—Identify the parts of the experience that could be improved (15 minutes)
  • Reflection and Q&A (30 minutes)

Homework: With your team, identify one scenario to analyze with a journey map

Session 3: Delivering disruption

  • Delivering disruption (20 minutes)
  • Exercise: Ideate big ideas for your users and learn how to prioritize and group ideas into actionable steps for you and your team (25 minutes)
  • Q&A (15 minutes)
  • Break (10 minutes)
  • Road mapping—Scoping and delivering a big idea to market (15 minutes)
  • Q&A (15 minutes)
  • Wrap up and Q&A (30 minutes)

Next steps: Work with your team to ideate big ideas and little wins around the pain points discovered and synthesize and prioritize the ideas that have the most impact on your users