Design Thinking.

You’ll use the ‘Design Thinking’ process throughout the Future Leaders programme as you work to develop your local community project. It’s a world-renowned process that grew out of Stanford University.

Stage 1 – Empathy

Empathy is about understanding the challenges and problems that people face. This stage is very much about research, which includes trying to see (or experience) the world from the perspective of your users.



Stage 2 – Define the problem

After all of your empathy research, distill down your insights, and now work to define a specific problem you want to solve for your user(s). At the end of this stage, you’ll work to define a ‘problem statement’.

Example 1 – “mental health the biggest issue for rangatahi (youth) in the Far North.”

Example 2 – “boredom is the root cause of many problems for youth in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.”

Example 3 – “young people in Greymouth are struggling to find work.”

Stage 3 – Ideate

Once you’ve defined your problem statement, now comes the fun part. Flip your problem statement on it’s head – “how might we…”, and start brainstorming as many creative and crazy ideas as possible.


Below are some example ‘how might we’ questions. Once you’ve settled on your question, work as a group to generate as many ideas as you can. Then, start to narrow them down, and select an idea to prototype.

Example 1
– “how might we better support mental health and wellbeing for young people in the Far North?”

Example 2 – “how might we connect local businesses with young people looking for work?”

Example 3 –  “how might we create more connectedness and support for the elderly in our community?”

Stage 4 – Prototype

Sometimes when we have ideas, we waist time thinking about how to make it ‘perfect’, which can completely kill your idea. Prototyping is about having a go and learning fast, with limited resources.

Stage 5 – Test

Once you’ve thought about the quickest and leanest way to prototype your idea, now it’s time to test it. Testing it with your users is the most valuable way to gain feedback and insights as to whether it’s actually going to help solve the problem(s) that you set out to solve!

Refine and repeat – it's not a linear process!