Two years ago, we began a long-term research project to better understanddesign thinking: 如何从业人员将其纳入日常工作及其对项目结果的影响。

In setting out to define a design-thinking maturity model, we realized that the maturity of the individual team members and their experience, exposure, and mastery of design thinking were essential to the overall team’s (or organization’s) ability to effectively utilize design-thinking methodologies. To better understand this relationship between individual abilities and team performance, we identifiedcatalysts—individual practitioners whose design-thinking mastery positively influenced design-thinking practices in their teams or organizations. Based on our conversations with these catalysts about their experience (and the experience of those they teach and guide), we hypothesized that design-thinking practitioners share roughly the same learning journey, despite different backgrounds and contexts.

为了澄清这个学习之旅的阶段,我们进行了一个large-scale survey涉及1067名从业者,旨在调查受访者的设计思维经验。根据自我报告的设计思维曝光,经验,主要活动以及最大的挑战,我们将反应分类为潜在的学习阶段。这个过程,每年与数百名设计思维从业者交谈UX Conference那helped us establish a set of unifying stages that most practitioners encounter while learning design thinking:新人adopter领导那andgrandmaster

Why These Stages Matter


  • 大多数学习旅程都在某些时候感到沮丧。在设计思维的学习之旅中,您正在努力为您努力提供鼓励,在“这一点”时刻。如果您正在学习自己的设计思考,那么对旅程的认识可以帮助您唯一一个人。
  • Identifying your current phase can help you predict future progress. Stay focused on the goals of your current learning phase rather than jumping ahead. Jumping ahead runs the risk of creating experiences that leave you feeling doubtful or confused, and thus less motivated to continue to learn.

As an educator (or manager or mentor), you empathize, create an effective design-thinking learning experience for others, and enable sustainable, long-term success.

  • 了解其他人,不同的人在学习过程中的不同阶段是一个有效教育者的关键部分。它允许您提供有效的学习体验,而无需压倒您的受众,其具有太多的复杂性,并且在每个阶段都抢先地缓解了学习者的痛点。
  • 教育和激活需要一群人lot of resources (time, money, and effort). This education process should intentionally designed, in order to maximize resources and return on investment. Mapping participants’ phases and their progression through the learning journey allows an educator to benchmark progress, and indirectly, success of the training.
There are 4 phases in the design - thinking learner’s journey:新人adopter领导andgrandmaster Individuals progress through these 4 phases, as their experience with design thinking and exposure to it increase. The适配器阶段是最动荡的是从业者首次试验,申请设计思考他们的工作。在这一阶段,掌握(定义为能力之间的组合,有多好,并且信心,一个人的思想是多么良好)波动最多。




  1. Criteriaare observable qualities that can help the learner (or an external observer, such as an educator) identify the learner’s current stage in the learning journey. They include awareness of one’s own competence, level of exposure, and confidence.
  2. Primary activities学习者的行为和使用设计思维方法。
  3. Educator goals and obstaclessummarize learner’s pain points at any given stage and corresponding educator goals that can help learners overcome them.





  1. Individuals who are committed to learn design thinking
  2. Individuals who are not interested to learn more about design thinking. They’ve been exposed to design thinking, but that is where their learning journey halts. These practitioners may remain in this stage indefinitely until they encounter a deeper exposure to design thinking that broadens their perspective, experience, or acceptance.

新人s’knowledge is minimal; they have a surface-level understanding of design thinking, often rooted in the definition they received during their first exposure. They may be able to provide a definition but are not familiar with the details of a framework or its value. They have topical associations with design thinking—sticky-notes, the infinity loop, whiteboards.新人S不知道他们的设计思维无能 - 他们尚不知道他们不知道。

Primary Activities

新人s’ primary goal is to understand the basics — what design thinking is and why it’s useful. Often, this stage’s activities are self-initiated: browsing articles, reading books, or signing up for a seminar. In other cases, design thinking is learned by necessity or requirement at work or school through onboarding programs, collaborative workshops, required courses, or mandated trainings. Most新人s have not yet actively practiced design-thinking activities, or if they have their participation is shallow and topical.




Individuals at this stage have adopted design thinking and begun to practice it. They may have had some ups and downs in their limited experience with design thinking. It is common foradopters to waffle between overconfidence and self-doubt and to feel both confused and successful at the same time. SuccessfuladopterS见与工作或生活相关的设计思维,从而致力于继续学习。


增加(被动或活跃的)曝光和熟悉设计思维所做的adopters aware of their knowledge limits. They understand the potential of design thinking, but still have a lot to learn.Adopters have invested time, effort, and energy into design thinking and have started applying design thinking to their work with mixed success. Their commitment to design thinking can be self-initiated or dictated to them by an authority with an invested interest (company leadership, university, or boss).

Primary Activities

Adopters practice design thinking in a linear way — by the book. They rely heavily on checklists — for the6设计思维步骤那as well as for the activities associated with each of those steps. Manyadopter倾向于规定的品牌版本的设计思维,通常由他们的机构,公司或信誉良好的外部组织提供。

It is common for practitioners to encounter failure in this phase —especially if they are learning predominately on their own—because of their incomplete understanding of the design-thinking framework. Common types of failure include jumping to conclusions, using the wrong activity at the wrong time, and lack of buy-in or support from others. These failures push some practitioners to abandon design thinking altogether. However, most learning in this phase occurs through failure. Practitioners who embrace failure tend to develop a malleable understanding of design thinking in future phases. (It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s right: failure is a learning opportunity.)

一些adopterS可能主要通过积极参与设计思维讲习班和活动以及经验丰富的设计思维从业者来学习。虽然这组adopters may not have the opportunity to experience a sense of failure because of the support received from their peers, it is still likely they will question the value and legitimacy of design thinking at some point.


AdopterS是在自行车上,但仍需要训练轮和教练。AdopterS'的信心下降,因为它们实现了应用设计思维的间接方式以及他们必须学习多少 - 例如,他们最初认为这个过程的直接程度与它是多么摘要(和潜在的压倒性)。The goal of the educator at this stage is to help learners through hands-on practice and assistance until they can comfortably use design thinking on their own. Individuals are most commonly lost in this phase when they cannot make a direct connection to the relevance of design thinking. Thus, it is imperative thatadopterS查找日常工作的相关性和应用。

Phase 3:领导

这是proficiency stage of design thinking.领导s can articulate design thinking succinctly to others and their confidence grows steadily, with varied (generally positive) experiences and continued exposure.领导者在他们的学习旅程中积极,独立的角色,开始适应设计思维;他们开始探索新的应用程序,甚至可以以其圈子的设计思考而闻名。


领导者can practice design thinking with general ease, confidence, and independence.领导者become more and more aware of their new knowledge and comfort as they mature through this phase. They often teach others earlier in the learning journey. They are able to consistently and somewhat adaptively perform design-thinking activities without thinking about them. They don’t try to apply design thinking by the book, rather use it as needed depending on their goal.

Primary Activities

在这一阶段的从业者在这个阶段的设计思维活动与他人或在没有教练的情况下进行设计思维,但仍然具有一些准备和焦点。虽然他们以前参与者,他们现在促进,发起,甚至倡导合作设计思维活动。例如,他们可能会发起一个同理心建筑workshop那pull others into user research, or map auser journeyto uncover pain points or moments of truth. These activities that leaders are involved in gradually increase in complexity, ranging from involving users in workshops to fostering stakeholders into the process and multimedium prototyping (for example,bodystorming那future-stateblueprinting那andstoryboards) .


The goal of the teacher in this phase is to continue to instill confidence and help sustain the learner’s commitment. The goal should be to empower领导s过渡到设计思维教师和促进者的作用。尽管他们已经进展了,但他们仍然可能无法意识到弱点或潜在的改进(即使他们经常在他们制造之后承认错误)。在这一阶段推动反思是帮助的关键领导s继续增长(并进展爷爷)。他们必须在调整设计思维行为方面采取积极的作用,以满足其上下围目标和需求,可持续发展,并最大限度地提高潜在的福利。

Phase 4:棋圣

(The term grandmaster comes from the game of chess. It’s a title given to only the best and most exceptional players, who have spent countless hours practicing and honing their techniques.)

在这个阶段的从业者不仅成为设计思维的教师,而且创造了应用它的新方法,思考它,并加入它。设计思维的实践如此体现在他们的行为中,他们很少需要考虑应用它。棋圣sview design thinking as a flexible, dynamic toolkit. They’ve long departed from the concept of a prescribed process and rather view it as scaffolding to solve both organizational (often internal) and end-user (external, product-related) problems. However, this phase doesn’t come without downsides.棋圣s更有可能怀疑设计思维而不是领导s,通常,当早期学习者将受害者降低到管理的设计思维营销,因此误解,误用,削弱了整个练习。


棋圣年代的定义特征是criti的能力cally reflect on their design-thinking practice. This reflection enables them to judge what is useful and potentially depart from the traditional ways and activities of design thinking.棋圣也知道如何帮助别人对同一阶段的启蒙阶段。棋圣s意识到他们的能力。它们深入,直观的理解,并可混合设计思维技能,共同满足他们的具体需求。

Primary Activities

传统的设计思维活动仍然使用grandmasters, but are altered, adapted, and applied in complex ways, depending on the goal, audience, and potential obstacles.棋圣s don’t stick to prescribed or branded versions of design thinking and more often pull tools and/or activities from other realms, like service design and business strategy. For example,grandmasterS更有可能使用如诸如此类的活动service blueprinting和商业模式帆布。虽然在此阶段仍进行基本的设计思维活动,但它们与早期阶段中的那些不同,因为它们是更复杂,涉及的活动的投入或对准策略(与基本活动是最终目标的前一级相比)。


棋圣shave very likely surpassed their original teachers. Their goal becomes not just activating and educating individual learners, but rather organizations as a whole. As practitioners themselves,爷爷face an increasing likelihood of (re)questioning the value of design thinking. Increased knowledge and mastery are a blessing and curse; this pessimistic view is often rooted in the realization of what design thinking can and cannot solve (contrary to earlier naive ideas that design thinking can be a cure-all). However, even爷爷can get better, by self-reflection, by learning from their peers, and also by learning from their juniors: one of the skills of supreme mastery is the ability to discern which of the hundreds of ideas generated by eager newcomers is actually a stroke of genius.

Additional Notes and Considerations

  • Trained designers experience the design-思考学习旅程也是不同的。许多设计师认为设计思维只是一种表达和传达“设计”解决问题解决方法的方法。因此,许多设计师可能会觉得他们完全绕过了这个学习之旅,因为这就是他们本能地思考的方式。然而,设计师也体验了这一学习之旅,尽管在他们的教育或职业中早些时候,并且可能没有被包装或品牌作为设计思考。这并不意味着所有爷爷are designers, but rather that many successful designers likely are.
  • One person may be at multiple levels at the same time.一些技能可能落入一个阶段,而其他技能则进入较低的不同阶段。例如,从业者的心态和反思可能会崩溃棋圣那while their hands-on experience and exposure to activities into领导。目标是确定这种不平衡,并投资于鞋垫较弱的经验。



Regardless, it is imperative we frame and articulate learning design thinking as an experiential journey. Doing so can help us become more effective learners and educators. Learners can gain insight and awareness into the greater journey and goals, while educators can thoughtfully and successfully execute the design-thinking learning experience they aim to create.