Design Method Toolkit

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1. The Design Method Toolkit

The design method toolkit was created to allow multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary teams to work using an agile framework to tackle challenges by using design thinking.

As part of the MediaLAB Amsterdam, it was identified that there were issues when having multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams to have a common language when tackling projects. The Design Method Toolkit was developed to help minimise the friction that this could cause. It is a curated collection of methods, that have been split into tasks that team members can perform themselves and that can guide teams through a design thinking process.

The Design Method Toolkit is structured so that teams can start from one of two starting points.  First, from a  perspective of research, aimed at when the team  feels that they don’t have enough information to tackle the challenge and want to start by researching about the topic. The second approach, if the team has a strong assumption about how to tackle the challenge, they can start creating prototypes or artefacts, this will allow them to quickly test those assumptions. Therefore the Design Method Toolkit has a two layer structure. The first layer is about the way the team wants to start working (Research or Create).

Research Methods

Research methods are a category of methods for when teams feel they don't have a grasp on the challenge, these methods allow them to get familiar with the topic and dicover insights they can test.

Create Methods

These methods are for when there are assumptions and insights that have been discovered. These methods promote building prototypes and artefacts to test these discoveries.

Aside from deciding the starting point, the design method toolkit helps to follow a design thinking approach by having the following five categories. Depending on which part of the design thinking process a team might be, the categorisation helps to pick the relevant methods for that particular phase.

Define intentions

These are methods that are aimed at helping the design team to identify what the challenge actually is, frame their challenge, understand the limitations and opportunities and fall in love with the problem.

Know the user

Methods that will help the design team in understanding the needs, desires and fears of their users. At the same time, the challenges have a context around them, and these methods also aim to understand the context of the user.

Frame insights

These methods will help the team to make sense of the information they have collected. They will help in identifying opportunities that make sense for the users' needs and challenges.

Ideation and concepts

Methods that will help teams to come up with several different ideas and ways to select the best ideas to develop further.

Prototype and test

Methods that will help the team to build prototypes to allow them to test and find out if their concepts work, and ways to collect the things that don't work from the concepts so they can be iterated on.

The Design Method Toolkit was developed based on the experience of the MediaLAB Amsterdam, where we found that using a SCRUM in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams posed a challenge. There wasn’t consensus within the teams on what methods to use, or even what the methods entailed.  

When I started on this project, there had already been a first iteration. I helped in selecting the methods for the second iteration and have been in charge of curating the methods. At the same time, I decided to enhance the usability by simplifying  the cards themselves and by making sure all of the tasks within the toolkit were SCRUMable. This meant making sure that all the methods were divided into smaller tasks, that could be written on a scrum board as tasks and could be assigned to team members.


For the website the design, I aimed to have users have a similar experience as they would with the physical toolkit. Therefore, the cards flip and behave as if they were regular cards on the screen. The website, allows users to filter based on time, or any of the categories the methods have. You can visit the website here.

Next steps

Right now we are busy with expanding the Toolkit to cater to more specialised challenges. We have a Global Goals Toolkit and Visualisation toolkit in development.

I am working on setting up the groundwork for future toolkits and making sure that there is a sturdy framework that can be used by different experts to be able to create relevant toolkits on different topics, at the moment there is a Business Method Toolkit, Visualisation Method Toolkit and Global Goals Toolkit in development. The framework needs to support the physical and digital toolkits.

This means expanding the functionalities and making sure there is a design system that allows a consistent look and feel, while giving enough freedom to each toolkit so that it is recognisable and distinct.

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