Which Roles to Include in the Design Thinking Process?

Including the right people in your design thinking process will improve its effectiveness.

One of the main reasons design thinking is successful is because it counters the biases that prevent organizations from finding truly creative solutions. Because of its inclusive nature, the process alleviates issues with costs and risks and elevates employee buy-in. Design thinking fosters problem solving with more of the total organizational knowledge, rather than a subset of it.

This allows you to leverage an often-underutilized resource in decision making: the people who work closest to the problem at hand. Your subject matter experts and technicians and users have the hands-on experience needed to avoid the pitfalls that other groups might not be aware of.

By emphasizing participation, engagement, and collaboration, design thinking showcases both the differences and strengths across the collective personalities of the organization. Including these individuals as well as clients and stakeholders in defining the problem will improve the accuracy of the solution and deliver right solution faster than traditional brainstorming methods.


One of the best guarantees for success on any innovation is if the employees of a company are behind it. Getting their involvement in generating and building on ideas is an excellent way to have their support. Essentially, their time and efforts spent merit their support and the shared project boosts team building through creating trust and a shared vocabulary based on the experience.

End Users

Involving users can have an extraordinary effect on the process of developing a solution. It allows those involved to immerse themselves, especially when end users are brought in to testify to their own experience, further allowing the alignment of perspectives, cooperation, and ideating a solution. This is even more beneficial to managers on innovation teams, as their exposure to end users and their stories is limited to non-existent. The structure and linearity of the design thinking process tends help managers adjust to the new parameters being discussed and adapt to new behaviors.


Co-creating and designing alongside stakeholders is similar to taking an entire chunk out of the approval process after this is typically done. As they're potentially among those who may be most affected by decisions being made, it serves to have this input throughout the process. Iterating the solution with their knowledge and approval will save time in the long run.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Some of the most valuable input during the design process can come from those who are considered experts in relevant subject matter. Those who tend to navigate their day-to-day responsibilities around the very problem being iterated are considered to have this "expertise" as well, as their feedback can correct the direction of the process and save time in the long run. The details and caveats surrounding the problem at hand may only be apparent to individuals with experience. Combining that with more, possibly newer perspectives has the potential to bring about a solution with all the necessary information to navigate the roadblocks and the imagination stemming from a fresh point of view.

Experience Designers

For those creatives whose daily activities tend to operate on a slightly alternative framework, the design thinking process tends to be too structured and linear. However, not everyone included in the process will be an experience designer, and the overall goal will be a change in process or an entirely different one altogether. This type of change can be overwhelming, so the linear structure of the design thinking process is an asset as it keeps people on track, removing the tendency to spend too little or much time on any one thing and creates a natural current from research to rollout.

AgencyQ regularly employs the design thinking methodology to resolve our clients' most difficult challenges. We also facilitate design sprints that involve a diverse team of internal and external stakeholders to come to solutions. Contact us to see how design thinking can help overcome your organizational obstacles.

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