Design Sensing

An alternative approach to Design Thinking including qualities from Theory U and Appreciative Inquiry

This structured, iterative, 7-step process supports innovation teams to develop ideas, products or services that
are based on users’ needs
fuel team creativity and collective wisdom
tap into hidden futures that are ready to emerge

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What is Design Sensing?

Design Sensing was developed by the Visionautik Akademie as an alternative to Design Thinking within the EU project “Hosting Innovation”.
Running through a multitude of innovation processes within and beyond Visionautik Akademie we found that Design Thinking is a very helpful approach to generate new ideas, products or services. We noticed, though, that with a few changes to Design Thinking, the innovation process can go much deeper and bring better results with greater ease.

So we experimented with adding aspects from other methodologies, above all from Theory U and Appreciative Inquiry, and thus created this alternative to Design Thinking.

We integrated gratitude and appreciation as their own phase, and we enriched the ideation phase with intuitive methods that go beyond classic ideation and brainstorming techniques.

We perceived the ideation phase in classic design thinking processes as mostly very mind-driven, usually with post-its and pen, in active brainstorming mode, usually with words, maximally with visuals. For us innovation isn’t reduced to mind-based thinking and producing ideas, but a holistic approach that also includes perceiving and sensing what the future holds, and what this specific situation needs - inspired by Otto Scharmer’s presencing. This is why we call this process Design Sensing.

  • Appreciative / Community building
  • Awareness Raising
  • Business / Entrepreneurial Thinking
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Decision making
  • Empowerment
  • Focalizer
  • Group communication
  • Harvesting
  • Idea generator
  • Problem Solving
  • Reflection
  • Social skills
  • Strategy / Planning
  • Sustainability
  • Understanding complexity
Innovation Phases
  • 1 Understanding the challenge
  • 2 Creating an Innovation-Friendly Culture
  • 3 Fostering New Perspectives & Ways of Thinking
  • 4 Idea Generation
  • 5 Grounding the Idea
  • 6 Prototyping
  • 7 Implementation & Diffusion
  • 8 Upscaling
  • 9 Evaluation
Train the Trainer seminars including Design Sensing can be found here: