For me design thinking is a human-centered approach to learning, creating, and doing through EMPATHY. When I created and designed DEEP design thinking (© May 2010), my foundation & inspiration was drawn from Kim Saxe’s work at Nueva and the d.School at Stanford University.  Kim’s DT process was too complex for my little brain and I felt the d.School’s DT process was limited to its intended audience of designers (adults/higher ED/business peeps). Thus, DEEP: Discover. Empathize. Experiment. Produce. was created for ALL audiences of Designers.

Yes, design thinking starts with Empathy. It is the root, the heart, the piston, the engine, the driver, the be all end all of design thinking. Yet, how do you start with Empathy if you don’t know “where” or “what” or “who” you start with? 

In all my DT experiences, it never truly “starts” with empathy… There is planning behind the scenes- selection/discovery of topic and who are the users.  That to me is why Discover mode is so important and a great entry point to DIVE DEEP. The mode of Discover allows for the puppet masters (teachers, facilitators, coaches,etc) and designers to launch into a design challenge.  Discover mode can last 5 minutes to several days depending on the context of the challenge and the designers. For teachers, its a great space for content delivery as well as for students to “discover” problems & solve problems.

Below I created a list of areas of Discover general topics designers can help categorize and/or delve into to launch their design challenge. As well as Discover MEANS to help designers launch into their design challenge. 

Experiences Systems Tangibles What Ifs Social
Environment Spaces Curricular Organization Routines
Habits Infrastructures Behaviors Observations Current Events
Wicked Problems Cultures Relationships Politics Rules/Laws