We’re re-posting a blog into the work of UNHCR Innovation. Here Lauren Parater identifies essential resources for a design thinker.


Original Article by Lauren Parater, Associate Innovation Engagement Officer, UNHCR Innovation


7 essential resources for a design thinker


I’m not the average person who would be interested in purchasing the newest edition of the Harvard Business Review but walking around the airport in September, the newest addition caught my eye. The title of the September 2015 issue was The Evolution of Design Thinking and immediately I was intrigued and branded it my flight reading material. As an advocate for the use of design thinking principles, I was impressed to see such a human-centred approach being highlighted in Harvard’s corporate public fora.


Design thinking at its core is about empathy with users, a discipline in prototyping, and a tolerance of failure. This approach has been championed by those focusing on product design, but in more recent years this approach has been adapted to everything from corporate consulting to how governments interact with citizens and how we deliver humanitarian aid. There has been an undeniable shift and it’s hard to ignore the benefits of incorporating design thinking into our process. And no I’m not just saying this because the Harvard Business Review is now behind the idea. We’ve witnessed how these tools can transform the user experience and can create successful models to examine complex problems.


You’ll see on the front page of this website the quote “UNHCR Innovation partners with people inside and outside of UNHCR to innovate with and for refugees.”  That second with is very important and at the core of our mission to keep our end users (refugee and displaced communities) at the centre of the design process.


Evidently, design thinking is here to stay. It has the potential to grow past an approach associated just with products and (now) corporate strategies. If incorporating these principles into the humanitarian sector is as successful as we hope, design thinking will transform into a powerful tool for social good.


For those of you unfamiliar with the approach, I’ve rounded up seven essential resources for anyone interested in becoming a design thinker.


A virtual crash course in design thinking in 90 minutes

Instead of binge-watching your new favourite show, why don’t you take a 90 minute deep dive into the innovation process? This virtual crash course uses videos, handouts, and facilitation tips to take you step-by-step through the process of hosting or participating in a design challenge.


The crash course is a product of Stanford’s D-School and you don’t need any previous design experience to enrol in the virtual crash course. After 90 minutes, you’re expected to take away a basic understanding of the principles of design thinking and start to adapt them into your personal and professional routines.


I’m not the creative type: You can prototype anything

People are sometimes confused about prototyping and the innovation process. This short zine was created by a few designers in New York to help explain the nuances of the prototyping process in a way that is interesting and useful. The first addition of I’m not the creative type is a space for those unfamiliar with the prototyping process to let loose and better understand how you can really prototype anything.


Please continue to full article where Lauren identifies 5 further essential resources for a design thinker including several toolkits that have already been utilised for transformative design, enhancing the lives of millions.