luma institute design thinking

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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LUMA defines Human-Centered Design as the discipline of developing solutions in the service of people. In general, it’s an activities-based approach to creative problem-solving that focuses on people above other factors — whether the challenge is making a better product, process, service or anything else.

Innovation is an economic imperative that calls for more people to be innovating, more often. These cards equip people in various lines of work to become more innovative. They enable practical planning in order to bring new and lasting value into the world.

The key ingredient to successful innovation is the everyday practice of Human-Centered Design: the discipline of developing solutions in the service of people. Every story of a good innovation–whether it’s a new product, a new service, a new business model or a new form of governance– begins and ends with people. It starts with careful discernment of human needs, and concludes with solutions that meet or exceed personal expectations.

To begin, let’s have a quick overview of the fundamental principles behind Design Thinking:

  • Design Thinking starts with empathy, a deep human focus, in order to gain insights which may reveal new and unexplored ways of seeing, and courses of action to follow in bringing about preferred situations for business and society.
  • It involves reframing the perceived problem or challenge at hand, and gaining perspectives, which allow a more holistic look at the path towards these preferred situations.
  • It encourages collaborative, multi-disciplinary teamwork to leverage the skills, personalities and thinking styles of many in order to solve multifaceted problems.
  • It initially employs divergent styles of thinking to explore as many possibilities, deferring judgment and creating an open ideations space to allow for the maximum number of ideas and points of view to surface.
  • It later employs convergent styles of thinking to isolate potential solution streams, combining and refining insights and more mature ideas, which pave a path forward.
  • It engages in early exploration of selected ideas, rapidly modelling potential solutions to encourage learning while doing, and allow for gaining additional insight into the viability of solutions before too much time or money has been spent
  • Tests the prototypes which survive the processes further to remove any potential issues.
  • Iterates through the various stages, revisiting empathetic frames of mind and then redefining the challenge as new knowledge and insight is gained along the way.
  • It starts off chaotic and cloudy steamrolling towards points of clarity until a desirable, feasible and viable solution emerges.

Where did it come from?

Design Thinking was popularised as a specialism in the 1990s, promoted best by design consultancy IDEO who also worked alongside Stanford University to create the design thinking institute. Tim Brown really brought it to the attention of the global business community in his 2008 Harvard Business Review article and perhaps because of this, for many people, design thinking is only ten years old (and might also be a bit of a fad). However, as a term, design thinking was first referenced in research in the 1960s as a feature of product and industrial design practice The underlying approach and it’s organisational value have been steadily gaining recognition since.

Today, we have organisations such as IDEO, Design Council, Maya and LUMA Institute leading the field, but design thinking is fast becoming the ‘go to’ methodology that any informed person or organisation can use to help solve strategic and complex challenges, be they social or economic.

It’s a people-centric approach, so human-centred design (HCD) is a key part of design thinking, even though it isn’t always the starting point.

It’s never been more important to be human-centered.

Like never before, you and your teams need to manage evolving conditions, evaluate emerging risk, and stay focused on designing great solutions for those you serve. But how?

LUMA Institute offers a unique, flexible and easy-to-use system of human-centered design methods that help you creatively solve problems.

What you’ll learn

As a LUMA certified practitioner, you’ll be able to: 

  • Use human-centered design methods, activities and techniques in your work on a daily basis, whatever your job is.
  • Begin to speak a common language for creative problem-solving that leads to faster, better collaboration that gets results.
  • Know how and when to apply combinations of human-centered design methods to common challenges, such as aligning a team or coming up with better ideas.
  • Build your own agendas for work sessions that use combinations of LUMA methods to address specific business challenges.
  • Collaborate effectively with others — whether that’s colleagues, customers or partners — both in-person and remotely, across locations and time zones.

LUMA Institute

Organizations of all types face similar challenges – creating digital customer experiences, designing on shoestring budgets, generating breakthrough ideas large and small. LUMA Institute can help, as we’ve done with organizations of all sizes and industries worldwide. 

With all the current challenges and uncertainties, it’s more important than ever to be human-centered. Like never before, organizations and their teams need to navigate evolving conditions, manage change and risk, and still design great things for the people you serve.

LUMA Institute teaches a design thinking as a unique, flexible and versatile system that enables individuals, teams and entire organizations to be more creative, collaborative and human-centered, so you can solve theright problems and design solutions that people want and need.

LUMA teaches human-centered design as a practical, flexible and versatile approach to innovation — not a rigid process — that everyone can learn and apply. The LUMA System gives teams and entire organizations a shared language and design toolkit for taking on challenges within the way they already do business.

We’re a catalyst, not a consultancy, and we believe in helping clients scale human-centered design as quickly as possible so they can create measurable change, all on their own.

How to Use Design Thinking Methods for Everyday Innovation

According to Chris, there are more than 1,000 design innovation methods. Through research, LUMA has narrowed their System of Innovation to 36 methods, organized into nine categories and three practices. Each method falls into a bucket of Looking, Understanding or Making.

Chris refers to them as “Design Thinking’s equivalent to the periodic table; elemental methods which can be combined in thousands of different ways to tackle just about any work challenge the universe can throw at you.” How? Well, Chris covered a series of practical examples, including how to :

  • Conduct a Contextual Inquiry to observe key stakeholders and gain empathy
  • Codify your field research data using Rose, Thorn, Bud
  • Share observations and reveal insights through Affinity Clustering
  • Translate insights into worthy opportunity statements using Statement Starters
  • Align on the most significant opportunities using Visualize the Vote
  • Generating new ideas with remote teams using a Creative Matrix
  • Prioritize the most promising ideas with the Importance/Difficulty Matrix


In-class assessments and assignments. INCLUSIVE! LUMA Workplace® access One-year subscription to LUMA Workplace, our digital platform for Human-Centered Design to support you to take your new skills from workshop to workplace. Certification as a Practitioner of Human-Centered Design To earn LUMA Practitioner Certification, you will need to:

  • Attend all the learning sessions in their entirety and participate in all the coaching sessions and assignments.
  • Pass all 3 application assignments.
  • Share your work with the group at the coaching sessions.

Once you successfully complete the requirements you will receive:

  • Downloadable certification document customized with your name.
  • Digital badge for posting to social media and sharing in email signatures.

Program Details

The Practitioner Certification Program begins with LUMA’s two-day, in-person Fundamentals of Innovation workshop that introduces you to the LUMA System of Innovation in a group setting.

Through a dynamic mix of presentations and hands-on activities, the workshop will teach you to apply a versatile system that:

  • Provides your teams with a repeatable way to innovate
  • Promotes productive collaboration across teams
  • Offers creative alternatives to traditional brainstorming
  • Helps uncover deeper insights from market research
  • Guides and informs development work for products, services and processes

Following the workshop, you’ll continue with activities and instruction to help you effectively apply human-centered design to your daily work. Components include:

  • Remote sessions for expert coaching and instruction in additional design methods
  • Assignments to complete and share
  • Peer-to-peer sessions to give and get constructive feedback
  • Presentations to demonstrate how you have used human-centered design

Throughout the Practitioner Certification Program, you’ll use LUMA Workplace®, LUMA’s digital platform that’s loaded with human-centered design tools, resources, how-to videos, expert tips, downloads and more.

A versatile toolset for any problem

The LUMA System of Innovation is a framework of human-centered design that forms a toolset and shared language for innovation, even across countries and cultures.

The methods are organized into three key design skills: Looking, Understanding and Making.

The flexibility and versatility of the LUMA System delivers powerful results:

  • Each method can be applied individually, for a focused approach to a specific question.
  • Multiple methods can be combined in different ways as needed for more complex challenges.
  • The methods can be used with any type of problem, in any type of setting. 

The LUMA System seamlessly integrates with processes like Sprints, Agile or Lean Six Sigma to supercharge their impact – and it can be used in-person or online.

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