Our Approach

The general methodology that we teach in the Ukrop Studio is commonly referred to as “Design Thinking.” Design thinking is a systematic and collaborative approach for identifying and creatively solving problems. Our own framework for Design Thinking is explicitly iterative and includes two phases (and four modes). In the IDENTIFY phase you discover new insights in order to define the best problems to solve. In the SOLVE phase, you create possible solutions through ideation and prototyping and then evaluate these in order to improve them.

Graphic of Infinity-shaped design thinking framework with two phases and four modes. 1. Discover. 2. Define. 3. Create. 4. Evaluate. The identify phase contains discover and define. The solve phase contains create and evaluate.

DISCOVER

The Discover mode is focused on gaining empathy with customers — developing an understanding of their context, experiences, and behaviors — as teams continually iterate between data collection and synthesis.

DEFINE

The Define mode is characterized by distilling customer insights for specific customer segments, articulating these as well-defined problems to solve, and having the team prioritize those with the highest potential.

CREATE

The purpose of the Create mode is for the team to develop a concept or set of concepts — through rapid idea generation and low-resolution prototyping — that can be shared with others for feedback.

EVALUATE

In the Evaluate mode, teams seek feedback on concept prototypes, including feedback on the ideas and assumptions embedded within these prototypes. The team then decides whether and how to cycle back through earlier modes with an even better understanding and focus.

The Skills & Mindset of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

SKILLS

  1. Empathy: qualitative research methods, listening, engagement
  2. Opportunity finding: information synthesis, problem definition
  3. Creative thinking: imagination, idea generation, co-creation, visualization
  4. Experimentation: improvisation, prototyping, feedback seeking and use, assessing viability, failing wisely
  5. Collaboration: group ideation, group facilitation, group decision making, work sharing/planning

MINDSET

  1. People centric: empathy, perspective
  2. Optimistic: solution optimism, confidence, self-efficacy, self-direction, growth mindset, future focused
  3. Comfort with ambiguity: tolerance, spontaneity, patience, vision
  4. Curiosity: open to risk, opportunity discovery, non-conformity
  5. Persistence: grit, passion, action orientation
Front Cover of Michael Luch's book on Design Thinking

Interested in learning more about Design Thinking? 

Check out the book co-edited by W&M professors Michael Luchs and Scott Swan. Also check out this podcast from Michael Luchs.