The Double Diamond is a structured design approach to tackle challenges in four phases:
- Discover /Research— insight into the problem (diverging)
- Define/Synthesis — the area to focus upon (converging)
- Develop/ Ideation— potential solutions (diverging)
- Deliver /Implementation— solutions that work (converging)
Phases of this process are either diverging or converging. During a diverging phase, you try to open up as much as possible without limiting yourself, whereas a converging phase focuses on condensing and narrowing your findings or ideas.
If you google the Double Diamond you are bound to find various interpretations and also varying wordings. I am going to stick to the version above as its wording allows flexibility and agility in its application in my opinion. Or in other words, it is the most appealing recipe to me.
The four phases of the Double Diamond may be simplified and merged into two main stages of the process.
- Stage 1 — Doing the right thing (Diamond 1 — Discover and Define)
Whatever you do, you ought to look for the right problem to solve or the right question to ask before you try to do so. This is all about what you do.
- Stage 2 — Doing things right (Diamond 2 — Develop and Deliver)
Once you have found the right question to answer or the right problem to solve, you want to make sure that you do this the right way. This is all about how you do it.
Here’s step-to-step approach for each phase.
Stage 1 — Doing the right thing (Diamond 1 — Discover and Define)
This phase is split into Discover/Research and Define/Synthesis.
Discover / Research
- Create the brief (the usual starting point of your challenge) — Try to question the brief or your initial question by challenging every part of it and evaluating fields of interests.
List as many elements as you can, find characteristics, define areas of interest and extremes, list places, people (personas), experiences that are related and can be explored.
- Before you dive into your research, cluster your findings into topics to get an overview and you might have to limit yourself in terms of the scope you want to research.
- Dive into your research. Apply primary (field) and secondary (desk) research methods. Here is an extensive list of research methods by ideo.org.
As a result, you ought to end up with a huge pile of unstructured research findings.
Define / Synthesis
In order to make sense of your findings, you want to synthesise your research by applying the following steps:
- Download (summarise your raw findings and share them with your team) all your research.
- Cluster learnings and similarities to themes.
- Find insights (insights are the dormant truth about the consumer’s motivations, wishes or frustrations regarding a specific topic)
build opportunity areas (a phrasing of the potential area of action).
- Create HMW questions (A so called “how might we…” question that makes a tangible statement of what is to be done or solved within the area of action).
As a result, you ought to come up with a revamped brief (final brief, HMW-question) that either clarifies or details the initial brief challenge or even contradicts it.
Stage 2 — Doing things right (Diamond 2 — Develop and Deliver)
This phase is split into Develop/Ideation and Deliver/Implementation.
Develop / Ideation
As you have deduced the actual question to solve or challenge, you start ideating.
This is the fun part and as it is part of a diverging phase. You should restrain from limiting yourself and approach ideation with an open mind. Do not judge during ideation. Apply a “yes, and…” rather than a “no…” or “yes, but…” mentality. Let anything happen at this point and build upon each other’s ideas. There are tonnes of creative ideation tools and methods out there. I am not going into detail here.
Towards the end of an ideation phase, evaluate your ideas and select your favourite ones. Two tools that come in handy are dot-votings (each team member votes for ideas) or impact/feasibility matrices (a matrix that puts feasibility in relation to a potential impact of an idea).
As a result, you ought to end up with one or a small number of ideas you want to later prototype and test, in order to find the best answer or solution to your initial question or problem.
Deliver / Implementation
Once you have come up with potential solutions (set of ideas), you want to evaluate the final one and the way it needs to be implemented or executed. In order to so, you may apply an agile approach consisting of three steps:
Aim for MVPs — minimum viable products/prototypes, that offer enough tangibility to find out whether they solve the initial problem or answers the initial question.
As a result, you ought to be able to go “out” with your final proposal, product, answer or solution.
Once you have done so you might go back to start and do it all over again because there are always things to be improved.
Remember: Creativity is the habit of continually doing things in new ways to make a positive difference to our life
Depending on your role and a project, the size of the diamonds may also vary. Meaning that there might be challenges or projects, in which you solely focus or emphasis on one part of the Double Diamond. Furthermore, this process is not linear. In reality, you need to be prepared to be agile and go back and forth at any point.
In the end, it is a framework anyone may or may not apply. It has helped me and guided me through the design process. Nevertheless and at some point you will be stuck in the fog, and you will feel lost in the process. It’s normal, deal with it and trust the process.