Design thinking in HR: understanding the methodology and phases to follow

Design thinking effectively identifies and assesses internal talent within your company or among your candidates. Its methodology champions the promotion...
2 January 2024

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Design thinking in HR: understanding the methodology and phases to follow

Design thinking effectively identifies and assesses internal talent within your company or among your candidates.

Its methodology champions the promotion of creativity aimed at crafting innovative solutions that meet the needs of a defined target audience. 

It is founded on 5 phases where skills such as empathy, active listening, negotiation, and critical thinking are crucial. 

Given that you can benefit from this dynamic regardless of your industry sector, this article will discuss what design thinking is, its methodology, and the phases you should follow to implement it in your Human Resources strategies.

Design thinking in HR: Understanding the methodology and phases to follow

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a working methodology or an approach to problem-solving or tackling challenges that aims to generate people- or user-centered solutions.

Originally, design thinking was focused on the activities of designers, specifically on studying the cognitive processes activated in the act of designing. 

Over time, its methodology has permeated all creation, innovation, and problem-solving activities, integrating naturally into the most innovative and competitive organizations striving to think differently.

Although it’s a methodology experiencing significant growth in product design within the technology sector, it is also an effective tool for changing the way of thinking and working across all types of businesses and workplaces.

In these contexts, the impetus for action-oriented creativity becomes a strategic dynamic to achieve company goals, offering short-term solutions.

Design thinking methodology

The success of the design thinking methodology in businesses and educational programs is justified by its effectiveness in quickly finding innovative solutions that add value to people.

It fosters empathy, intuition, and creativity in a context where learning by doing is integral, incorporating techniques from educational dynamics.

Additionally, it is a very useful tool for energizing teamwork, promoting collaboration even across different departments. 

Here, collaborative work and cooperation among individuals with diverse skills and perspectives are key.

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Design thinking examples

As mentioned earlier, a design thinking process can be applied in various contexts. Here are some examples that may inspire you:

  • Structuring motivational interviews where the job position is the product and the candidate is the customer.
  • Finding solutions for workplace conflict situations.
  • Encouraging knowledge transfer or knowledge sharing.
  • Evaluating internal talent in a company or during a group interview process.
  • Training managers in inspirational and competitive leadership.

Design thinking stages 

The stages of design thinking aim to provide a practical work method that helps to gradually adopt a change in mindset within the company.


The first phase focuses on identifying the initial problem or challenge through an empathetic approach towards the people for whom solutions are being sought.

Intending to collect as much information as possible, this dynamic allows for the drafting of a detailed archetype definition of the target user, utilizing observation or tools like focus groups, surveys, etc. 

Empathy maps can assist at this stage in identifying new physical and emotional needs in your teams or clients.

Design thinking effectively identifies and assesses internal talent

Define the problem

The next step is classifying and analyzing the collected data to pinpoint opportunities.

One technique that can be used during this phase is clustering, which involves presenting all gathered information – using tools like sticky notes, for example – to saturate the workspace and then grouping it into central themes or ideas.

Subsequently, it’s essential to synthesize the information from the formed groups to find avenues for transforming the problem into opportunities.


The third phase explores various options with the goal of turning opportunities into tangible solutions.

To generate the most comprehensive range of responses, you can introduce dynamics such as brainstorming sessions, debates, etc.

The challenge lies in minimizing value judgments to achieve the greatest objectivity while fostering the expression of the most creative ideas and original, diverse perspectives.

Prototype and encourage experimentation

After agreeing on the solutions to work on, the prototyping process begins to test and experiment with these solutions.

Depending on the type of outcome you’re looking for, whether it’s designing an object, a service, or other intangible solutions, you can use storyboards, physical models, diagrams, role-playing, etc.

Evaluate and validate

Finally, validating the idea with the intended recipient group, user, or customer is necessary to gather their feedback and reaction to the proposed solution.

Based on this feedback, you can either confirm the result is satisfactory or revise it by returning to the necessary point in the design thinking cycle to meet the needs and desires of your target audience.

It’s crucial to answer their questions and consider their observations or suggestions.

A design thinking process can be applied in various contexts

How to implement design thinking?

To implement the design thinking methodology in your company, the role of the facilitator is essential, serving as a leader who guides participants through the process

This individual should possess soft skills such as active listening, critical thinking, and empathy.

Equally important is for the facilitator to foster a respectful workplace climate conducive to communication and collaboration, avoiding micromanagement or invasive supervision that stifles people’s creativity.

Regarding technical capabilities, data analysis tools like Big Data and specialized collaborative work software can help you launch the different phases of the design thinking methodology.

Similarly, our proctoring plans facilitate the creation of objective, respectful, and innovative exchange and evaluation spaces.

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