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    The Top 5 Design Thinking Insight Generating Tools

    The 5 best tools I use for generating customer insights.

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      Picture of Vaughan Broderick

      Vaughan Broderick

      Gaining insight from all of your customer research is not always easy when entering the Understanding Phase.

      No matter how many post-it notes you use, sometimes the innovation insights don’t surface.

      Here are 5 of the Design Thinking insight generating tools.

      Affinity Maps

      Start by placing all your notes randomly onto a wall. Then try to find conflicts, linkages and commonalities within the data.

      You can then start grouping the data into themes and capture the sentiment or latent insight that emerges.

      design thinking workshop affinity map

      Customer Journey Maps

      Customer Journey Maps are excellent for designing services, mainly when they are complex with multiple elements and decisions.

      First, on the x-axis, note all the steps that a customer takes on their journey.

      Then, on the y-axis, who is responsible for each step.

      Finally, note what ones are critical for success and the opportunities to improve – their pain points, bottlenecks, etc.

      Rail Europe Journey Map

      Empathy Maps

      Turn your interviews and field observations into a map of what the customer said and did.

      Then, infer what you think they were actually thinking and feeling from those observations, leading to needs and insights.

      Empathy Map for Design Thinking


      When used well, a fictional representation of your customer can be compelling.

      While trying not to stereotype, build out your user’s profile, including an image, pain points, demographics, impactful statement, and brief description about them.

      I find Personas valuable to travel through an innovation project to keep the user present when considering design decisions.

      Persona Example

      Jobs to be Done

      Jobs to be Done is one of my favourites innovation and reinvention tools.

      Made popular by the late American economist  Clayton Christensen, Jobs to be Done identifies the ‘jobs’ that a customer hires a company to get done.

      Jobs could be functional, emotional or social, and some will be more important than others. Jobs to be Done also helps to understand a customer’s pains and gains from which products and services can alleviate pains and support gains.

      Read this article for examples of how Jobs to be Done helps achieve problem-solution fit and product-market fit.

      Value Proposition Canvas

      These are my top 5 insight generating tools that I have used for innovation projects.

      Read this article about how insights potentially led to impacting thousands of lives.

      What’s your favourite Design Thinking tool?