Design Thinking


Pipefy’s Design Thinking Template is ideal for creating an innovative and customer-centric strategy for solving complex problems.

Our easy to follow template was based on the design thinking model developed by Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, or the, and helps you be more innovative through solution-based problem solving and gaining a deeper understanding of your customers. Start using this template now to promote design thinking across all your business processes, or read through some best practices before getting started.

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What is Design Thinking, and how can it help your business be more successful?

Design thinking is an interative process that encourages professionals in any field to challenge their natural assumptions, empathize with their product’s users, and reframe problems to be more human-centric; all in which serve to bring to the light alternative strategies and solutions to a problem. In other words, design thinking encourages professionals to think outside the box and embrace their natural, creative problem-solving abilities. It also shifts the focus from always praising doing over thinking.

By encouraging practices like empathizing with a customer and understanding of a problem comprehensively, design thinking puts value on the thinking part of problem-solving. When coupled with a “fail fast” mentality, it can be very powerful in driving customer-centric innovation in any business.

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How can you practice design thinking?

Design thinking was first described by Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon in The Sciences of the Artificial in 1969. Since then many other psychologists and designers have embraced the methodology and come up with varying models for its implementation. These models can have any number of steps, or phases, that can happen non-sequentially or even simultaneously.

One of the most adopted design thinking models was developed by Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, or the The phases of this model include; Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Phase 1: Empathize

Most problems that professionals aim to solve are not those of their own. That’s why empathizing with users is an essential piece of the design thinking process. By observing users and directly interacting with them, you can gain a new perspective on the problem you are trying to solve and help create a solution that most meets the needs of your customers.

It’s important that during this phase you gather all the information you can about the problem and display it in a way that everyone involved can access.

Phase 2: Define

The define phase is all about using the information and insights you gained from the empathize phase to clearly define the problem you are facing. It’s the step where you go from being broad and open to, zoning in on the specific need you want to address. A best practice is to define the problem with a succinct statement that provides focus and frames the problem.

Phase 3: Ideate

Now that you’ve narrowed in on your problem, it’s time to brainstorm as many possible and diverse solutions to that specific problem. Ideas should be ample and demonstrate a wide range in approach. This will allow you to think beyond obvious solutions, promote innovation, and discover new areas of exploration.

The at Stanford recommends that you do a consideration phase after ideation to filter which ideas will be prototyped. In order to encourage the most innovative potential, choose ideas that are wide ranging. Eventually, the best idea to the defined problem will reveal itself after user feedback and testing.

Phase 4: Prototype

A prototype is anything that a user can interact with and that essentially can be used to test an idea. It’s important to build quickly, cheaply, and with a specific question in mind. Your user’s interactions and reactions to a prototype should provide insights and answers into the idea your testing.

Phase 5: Test

The test phase usually happens insync with the prototype phase, but separating it into a different mode of thinking reminds us that simply putting a prototype in front of our users might not be as informative as we hoped.

To get the most out of testing your prototype, clearly think how you can conduct a test that will allow users to be natural and feel open to giving honest feedback.

Once the best prototyped solution reveals itself, start putting it into action and continue to observe customer interactions.

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What does a Design Thinking Template look like in Pipefy?

Pipefy’s Design Thinking Template is made-up of 6 phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, and Reflection.

In the Empathize phase, you are prompted to create an empathy map for customers, address questions, and describe a scenario for the stated problems. Here is also where you would want to use observations or conduct interviews to learn and understand the struggles that you or your audience are facing.

1. Create an Empathy Map
2. What are the customer’s needs?
3. What struggles is the customer facing?
4. Who can inspire you?
5. What has already been done?
6. Describe the perfect scenario for the stated problems

The next phase is the Define phase where you take your insights from the previous phase and use them to define your problem clearly.


Define the problem in this phase. Download full template.

Once you’ve defined the problem you can get to brainstorming on possible solutions by moving the card to the Ideate phase. In this phase, note your brainstorm ideas and potential next steps.

Now it’s time to create your prototype. Create mock-ups or representations of your ideas and do research on what will be needed to get the solution up and running. Remember prototypes should be cheap and quick to make, as to not waste resources.

In the Prototype phase, you will be asked to help you get started on building and be required to attach the images or documents of the prototype before going on to the next phase.


Catalog your prototype in this phase. Download full template.

With the prototype ready, it’s time to go to the Test phase. Share your prototype with your audience in a way that will provide a natural response. Gather feedback and gauge the effectiveness of this new prototype on solving the problem.


Open card in the Test phase. Download full template.

Since Design Thinking is an iterative process, Pipefy’s Design Thinking template includes the Reflection phase which continues the flow of thought by prompting you to reflect on learnings or feedback.

1. What did this process teach us?
2. What was most significant?
3. What might be done differently?
4. How do we feel about our work?

This template was built to help you and your company embrace Design Thinking for any business function. Pipefy is easily customizable, and you can use our templates to get started on modeling your perfect process.

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Design Thinking tips and best practices

Interviews should feel like conversations

When empathizing, let customers share what comes naturally to them for organic and out of the box insights.

Define one problem, tackle one problem

Clearly defining the problem within a narrow scope helps keep the focus, drive ideation, and promote real solution creation.

Create a design thinking culture

By making design thinking a cultural norm in your business, you can promote it’s continuous use throughout any function.

Prototypes should take minutes and cost cents

It’s important to not waste time and resources on building prototypes, but rather create a tangible version of your idea.

Testing is another chance for empathizing

When you’re testing your prototypes, empathize and observe your user’s interactions to gain more insights.

Adapt and repeat

Make the process your own and remember that design thinking is an iterative process meant to be practiced continuously.

Why manage your innovation processes in Pipefy?

To drive innovation, you need software that works with you not against you. Pipefy is a process management software that is powerfully flexible and customizable. Without IT skills or code, create customized processes that can be adapted whenever you need.

Pipefy enables you to:

  • Manage iterative processes, like Design Thinking, that are customized to your needs
  • Track data and metrics from any business process run in Pipefy
  • Automate workflow to save time and reduce human-related error
  • Send emails and email templates directly from the platform
  • Connect related processes and improve handoffs between teams or departments
  • Easily incorporate third party users and customers into the software

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