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What is design thinking 

Design thinking is a mindset, a people-centric approach, and process for managing innovations.

Design thinking is helpful for leaders who are facing challenges, dealing with uncertainty, simplifying complex processes and problems, and any ambiguous situation.

Design thinkers are empathetic, they walk in the shoes of the lives they are seeking to improve. 

You can learn or apply design thinking to improve technology solutions, systems, processes, customer experiences, user experiences, learning experiences, and to facilitate the innovation management processes.   

When you use design thinking frameworks like 4DLX-Grow, you practice and build capabilities in divergent thinking, empathy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and communication skills. 

You build capabilities to ensure everyone hears and understands all points of view throughout the four-phase framework.

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Do you want to become a design thinking master?

We’re here to help you get there. Our school is designed for people who are looking to learn how to think like designers, and we offer courses in everything from design thinking and innovation management education, workshops, consulting and more. You can even take our courses online or onsite at your company!

Whether you want to improve your own skills or those of the team around you, we have something that will work for everyone. With an experienced faculty of experts in the field of design thinking and innovation management education, we know what it takes to make real change happen – fast. And with flexible options including online classes as well as onsite training at your company location, Leadingrowth has got what it takes for any schedule. Let us show you how easy it is!

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to wicked problems

Design thinkers solve problems with people, and for people. 

Design Thinkers are inspired by wicked problems, as they aim to improve the wellbeing of people and society. 

Design thinkers focus on the people first and the technology second.  Think Steve Jobs, think Apple.  The traditional approach to innovation begins the technology and looks at what the technology can do to help people.  People learn the technology, for instance, AI, machine learning, blockchain, VR and then try and work out new ways to use the technology.  The focus is on the tech. 

Design thinking focuses on the human experience and solving the problems people are experiencing.  Design thinking practices looks for ways to improve the situation of a group of people, whether that be by reducing their pain-points or by increasing joy and happiness.  The tech is secondary.  Design thinkers search for best tech to support the best people-centric solution.



Design thinkers are typically curious and empathetic people.  They are curious by nature.  Design thinkers look at things from multiple angles and diverse viewpoints. They seek divergent views.

Design thinkers hone their listening skills, observation skills, people skills, research skills, and their communication skills as they ask questions, search for answers, and address their curious nature.



Design thinkers practice diversity and inclusion.  They seek differing viewpoints, to improve their understanding different contexts, biases, and ways of being human.  Design thinkers practice divergent thinking to get many perspectives and views on ways to improve humanity from the perspective of people of different genders, ages, cultures, physical and mental abilities, socio-economic backgrounds, education, and experiences.  Design thinkers actively seek to identify and include ALL relevant perspectives when undertaking discoveries, doing deep dives, and gaining insights.  Businesses that weave design thinking practices throughout their organisation are more likely to experience an empathetic, creative, and inclusive cultures where employees feel comfortable with contributing their own unique authentic selves and talents to creating happier and productive work environments.



Design thinkers are lifelong learners.  Design thinkers will learn various ways to use tools, maps, and templates, and find new ways to use the same maps, tools, and templates so they effectively increase their return on investment and their own leadership design thinking toolkit.  They are opportunistic oriented, always looking for new ways to improve situations, processes, experiences, sets of circumstances, in fact anything to enrich the wellbeing and lives of people.  Kaizen, time boxing, lean, and agile philosophies which focus on continuous improvements, simplification, moving faster, and change for the better, help design thinkers learn more approaches and new ways to improve the wellbeing of people.  Design thinkers continuously learn.  Their life-long learning is often visually represent through the shape of an infinity loop, representing the notion of never-ending learning experiences.  Design thinking is a never-ending journey as learning is ongoing.



Design thinking helps with business growth by improving experiences, products, services, ideas, innovations, innovation management, and sourcing or improving value, revenue, and markets.  The interactions between employees and customers, the process for co-creating value, looking for new opportunities, and reshaping or defining new markets or disrupting industries by creating blue oceans are means by which design thinking helps businesses to grow. The design thinking approach reduces costs and risks associated with the ‘build first’ mentality, as design thinkers create and validate ideas, products, and services with those who desire the solutions, even if they didn’t know it at the time.



Design thinking helps reduce and transition waste into new remade products. Through design thinking approaches people re-shape, reuse, refurbish, recycle  existing products into new upcycled products or businesses models that operate within circular economies. At the end of a product’s life instead of it becoming waste, it becomes raw material for another product, closing the product life cycle loop.  Waste becomes a valuable when it is a resource for other products.  Design thinking approaches help people to see new ways to transition waste into useful and aesthetically pleasing products.



Design thinking is a strategy or a way of thinking and going about problem solving, as well as a human centric approach that supports improvement, innovation, and idea management processes.  Design thinking considers people throughout the process.  This includes the problems customers, users or employees encounter and the solutions teams create for them, as well as the impacts on humans within the ecosystem, whether they are investors, suppliers, employees, customers, users, collaborators, or communities of people.



What makes design thinking different to creative thinking or critical thinking is the focus on improvements for people by people.  Creative thinking and critical thinking are key aspects of the design thinking process, and by themselves do not improve the lives of others.  Creativity is often about exploring the unknown and creating something that didn’t previously exist.  Design thinking relies on creativity.  Creative thinking assists design thinkers with new ways of looking at problems, or finding solutions, or producing ideas.  Critical thinking helps design thinkers identify key areas of investigation, analyse data, synthesise, and map out results for decision making.  Design thinking is an iterative approach and process that provides guidance to problems are unclear, undefined, and largely unknown.



Applying design thinking in the workplace generally starts with identifying a cross section of leaders who have growth mindsets and are willing to learn about design thinking approaches, practices, and processes.  As design thinking is a new approach and way of thinking for some, it requires people who are interested in learning new skills, capabilities, and tools and are willing to put in the effort to get uncomfortable, make mistakes, and try it.  As such design thinking is NOT suitable for people with fixed mindsets.  Design thinking gives everyone in the ecosystem a voice through a series of discoveries, deep dives, focus groups, ideation sessions and workshops.  Design thinkers flush out ideas, discuss and explore them.  Design thinking is also a process that manages the ideas through a pipeline through to implementation.  As design thinking permeates through the business, leaders grow more empathetic and confident with the tools and design thinking practices.  They use design thinking more often.  Multidisciplinary team tends to move through the process happier and faster.  Listening, communication, collaboration, employee engagement, and productivity levels tend to rise. Design thinking not only improves the wellbeing of the humans it serves, design thinking also improves the wellbeing of the people using design thinking at work.



Design thinking helps CMOs, CXOs, COOs, CIOs and CTOs improve employee / customer / user experiences. Create great experiences. Through design thinking applications design thinkers seek to understand differing viewpoints.  By applying various methodologies design thinkers triangulate them to identify moments of truths, blockages, shared areas of pain, and to look for opportunities to implement joyful moments.  By reducing pain and increasing joy design thinking focuses on the improvement of the human experience.



Visual diagrams, mapping methods and tools are ways design thinkers share their thinking, findings, or ideas.  They use networking, stakeholder, journey and experience maps, service blueprinting, swim lanes, graphs, picture-grams, infographics, diagrams, and charts to share results, show relationships, or as templates to complete in a workshop.  The notion of visualise, measure, improve, repeat comes from Kaizen philosophies in Japan post WW11.  Visuals with digital or paper sticky notes comes from lean and agile philosophies.  Digital, dirt, or paper visualisations help design thinkers visualise, collaborate, synergize, and interpret meaning with others.


Helps when facing complex challenges 

Design thinking is of value when leaders are facing complex challenges.  In complexity there are many contributing factors, potentially a range of mitigating circumstances and influential forces in which there is no control.  Often there is little understanding of the extent to which these circumstances and forces are contributing to the complexity of the challenge.  Through the four-phase framework, such as 4DLX-Grow, and the large toolkit,  leaders can apply design thinking learnings to embrace complex challenges, consider stakeholders, and the first and second order effects of decisions on people and the relevant stakeholders.


Agile processes + 100s of tools 

Design thinkers figuratively carry a 200+ toolkit  which is what gives the 4DLX-Grow framework its flexibility.  Many of the tools are similar to those used in agile processes.  Within each phase are a number of tools to select from, and the experienced design thinker will have the knowledge and experience to know which tool to select, and how to use it best.  Each challenge may require a separate set(s) of tools.  What makes design thinking exciting, is the challenge of learning which tools work best, because it is not an exact science, which is why the learning and experience loops are so important. Experienced design thinkers look for new ways to use the same tools, update existing tools, and teach others how to use the tools.  As design thinkers go through a challenge using the learning and experience loops, they update their knowledge, as well as their growth mindsets.  Design thinkers relish challenges and the opportunity to solve complex problems.  Design thinkers are lifelong learners, and embrace uncertainty, as design thinking is a mindset, as much as it is an approach and a process.



4DLX-Grow helps you design tomorrow

4DLX-Grow is a guide that strengthens the ways that humans work together, empathize with each other, understand culture and value in various contexts, cooperate, collaborate, and find solutions that are desired and wanted.

As well as being a guide, its an approach.  When we look at the high-valued brands (Companies) such as Apple, Amazon, Samsung, BMW, IBM, they are designing human-centric solutions.  The solutions come first.  They work out how to apply the technology, and how to adjust the processes and systems to improve the human experience and make the solution work.  The how comes after the why. This is design thinking in action. 

4DLX-Grow is a design thinking framework, philosophy and application that helps empower people to understand the best ways to work.  This may including learning how to unravel some of the complex systems, and simplify them so they are people friendly, easy to understand and use. 

4DLX-Grow helps leaders to embrace and apply skills that make us human,  you know those skills that are hard for machines to learn.  When leaders use 4DLX-Grow, people in the team are encouraged to improve how we hear one another, to listen what others have to say, to be curious about other people, understand and empathize with others, and to embrace creativity together.

Applying 4DLX-Grow incorporates mental models, decision making, data, tools, guidelines, processes and approaches within the multidisciplinary fields of the data sciences, social sciences, economics, marketing, people development, branding, engineering, and design.  


4DLX-Grow is a flexible people centric framework that guides you from idea to impact

Leadingrowth uses the 4DLX-Grow, a people-centric design thinking framework to help leaders re-imagine tomorrow’s  outcomes, whether that is the development of new software, new AI powered games, new tech,  new fashion solutions, new healthy or functional food solutions, new circular economy solutions, or developing a 2050 plan, where we work backwards developing the solutions needed for tomorrow.  4DLX-Grow is a simple four phase framework that is people-focused, and assists leaders with managing their innovations, continuous improvements, and changes required to meet the demands of tomorrow.


It's like putting on a superhero's cape

When used routinely users of design thinking find it improves their growth mindsets, upskills their creativeness, improves their innovative management skillsets, and empowers and uplifts their teams.  There is no thinking where I begin, or what should I do first.  The framework provides a guide.  When used routinely and with regularity, its users  find it’s like putting on a superhero’s cape, as it installs a superpower of confidence in its users that they will solve complex challenges and find solutions.  With regular use 4DLX-Grow Framework becomes a habit, exploring “the right” problems, as the framework helps people to sift the symptoms to identify the problem.   The four-phase framework comes with a toolbox of templates, maps, and tools that leaders and growth champions can use to improve, and co-create with their teams, as they innovate, change, and improve the world in which we live.

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Learn to influence 

Design thinking is a powerful innovation process, but most people don't know about it or how to use it.

Design thinking is one of the best ways to solve problems and create new products and services that your customers will love. But there are so many different tools! Which ones should you use? Where can you learn them all? Who can help you get started with design thinking in your business or organization?

That's where we come in! We're an international team of experts who teach design thinking, innovation management, creativity & leadership skills through workshops, training courses and consulting projects. Our mission is to help everyone make better decisions faster by teaching them how to apply design thinking principles in their day-to-day work. We've been doing this for more than 10 years now - let us show you what we've learned from our experience working with over 5000 leaders in  Universities, Government Departments, Agribusinesses, Circular Economy, Digital Creatives, Digital SMEs, Entrepreneurs and others...



through 4DLX-Grow and design thinking

With our structured approach we help leaders enhance their empathy skills.  We help leaders with tools so they can enhance the way they see other viewpoints, actively listen, listen to understand, be curious, empathize with people, and learn to ask questions like, “how can we?” or "tell me more"

Leaders often find themselves in new situations with new challenges that have no past (e.g. Covid).  Therefore, it is flawed to extrapolate history to unfamiliar problems and use old frameworks that have worked well in the past.  

We help leaders respond quicker with change, because too many enterprises aren’t responding to change quick enough, even when they recognise the need to rapidly transform in a fast-changing environment.  Leaders tell us they need help with building their empathy capacity so they can improve how they respond. 

Too often, leaders find themselves caught in a web of “this is how we do things”,  within that web are expensive technologies, processes, systems, brand portfolios, products, and business silos that don’t interweave well together.  Unravelling it all can seem too much. Understanding everyone's perspective can help with effective decision making. 

Corporate Empathy


4DLX-Grow helps leaders

  • engage in rapid prototyping and learning

  • immersive learning & seizing opportunities  

  • Design thinking it's learnt by doing 

  • improve organic growth

  • improve revenue streams

  • streamline revenue steps

  • reduce risk on new offerings 

  • navigate uncertainty & ambiguity 

  • build a brand as a valuable asset 

  • bring desirable products to market 

  • increase customer value 

  • adapting to changing markets  

  • move from commodities to building brands 

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4DLX-Grow focuses on improvement, like finding better ways of improving the customer experience,  or delivering faster and superior go to market strategies, and systems that support those go-to-market strategies. 

4DLX-Grow is action-oriented, each of the four phases, discover, define, design and deliver are action words that identify the objectives and  initiative-taking steps that underpins innovation and business growth. Through the learning and experience loops, the interdisciplinary design thinking team learn and improve how they navigate uncertainty, problem solve, and bring innovative solutions to market that strengthen the brand, grow the brand, and bring desirable solutions to customers in the right place, at the right time, and in the right ways.

Applying 4DLX-Grow helps teams to strengthen human-centered high-value relationships with each other and with all of the people in the supply chain. Strong healthy relationships help to deliver a competitive advantage, one that is difficult for competitors to replicate. Grow with your people. 



Agile, 4DLX-Grow and design thinking are useful when there are high degrees of uncertainty.  Agile looks at several ways to deliver solutions.  4DLX-Grow and design thinking seek take agile to another level because these approaches seek to understand the environment from various stakeholder perspectives, so when defining the problem, all of the viewpoints are known before looking for multiple ways to deliver solutions.  

4DLX-Grow and design thinking look to see if there is actually a problem.  Agile is responsive project management method for solving predefined problems in a changing environment.  Agile, 4DLX-Grow and design thinking have several iterations, which continually evolve through the cycle of continuous improvement. 

Agile, 4DLX-Grow and design thinking consider the human users.  4DLX-Grow and design thinking takes thinking about humans a step further. Design thinking encourages the diverse viewpoints from all human stakeholders, to seek to understand the perspectives of partners, shareholders, suppliers, customers, users, board members, investors, contractors, Government, employees, Trade Unions, Interest groups, NGOs, Sponsors, Regulators, and communities. 4DLX-Grow considers all of the humans in the ecosystems.



4DLX-Grow is a mindset and an approach to solving problems.  The people-centricity of 4DLX-Grow and its clear mandate to promote diversity and new ways of looking at things, helps leaders to strengthen their empathy, listening, curiosity, and people skills.  

Leaders find through regular use of 4DLX-Grow they are more comfortable with change. Some leaders told us it is a little like putting on a super hero's cape, as using the 4DLX-Grow framework helps to embrace uncertainty with confidence.  4DLX-Grow helps leaders be confident and comfortable working with unknowns and navigate effectively through stormy waters and rough seas.

Through the application of 4DLX-Grow, leaders find themselves letting go of limitations and dogmas that hold them back from challenging the status quo.  Leaders cope better with risks. 4DLX-Grow helps leaders to take measured risks and learn from many small failures.  These learning experiences help leaders to reduce risks through structured creativity, and by considering all of the factors and people with their unique perspectives within the ecosystem, supply chain, and markets when growing the business.

Leaders create tangible outcomes from little information.  They don’t rely on the past, instead they create the future. Leaders are confident and comfortable with uncertainty and change. The structured creative process, the tools, and the learning and experience loops help leaders to enhance their growth mindsets, raise and empower their team with confidence to they are productive and happier.

Leaders improve their curiosity, they strengthen their creativity and imagination, which helps them to improve their foresight skills.  They are visionary, forward thinking and forward moving leaders that inspire people to move with them into the future. Use 4DLX-Grow to create your blue ocean.

Blue Water




in an uncertain world

We work with leaders who are looking to create a new tomorrow.

4DLX-Grow is a framework that can help leaders create solutions for 2030, 2040 & 2050, because there is a high likelihood the products of today won't be needed tomorrow. 

It's not just the products that won't be around, it is the systems and processes, because automation, no coding solutions, Machine Learning and AI will be mainstream.  

4DLX-Grow helps leaders reimagine the needs for new systems, processes, workflows, revenue streams, customer acquisition models, products, services and business models.  



Volatility in markets is increasing as technology impacts and changes how we operate, make decisions, consume, interact, and buy.

Uncertainty is increasing, and predicting tomorrow's trends is getting harder.  The need to reduce complexity and create simpler solutions is intensifying and so is the ambiguity we face. 

Leaders tell us they are looking for a structured framework that provides them with flexibility, that is easy to use, and to implement across a range of different scenarios, and industries, which is why we tested 4DLX-Grow with over 5000 leaders across more than eight different industries.

Leaders say having a simple framework to guide them as they bridge the divide between today and tomorrow is why 4DLX-Grow is useful, they tell us using 4DLX-Grow is like putting on a super hero's cape. 



4DLX-Grow tools and processes help structure cohesive team interactions to cultivate greater inclusiveness, foster creativity, deepen empathy, and align diverse groups of people around specific goals and results.

4DLX-Grow is a design thinking approach relying on teams that frequently interact, ask questions, listen, learn, empathize, celebrate wins, take the learnings from losses, enhance collaborative creativity, use maps, templates, and tools to communicate, learn, and embrace ambiguity, as together they strive to achieve goals that only cooperation brings, where the sum of individual talents is greater combined.



You learn the process
You learn tools
You learn how to apply the tools
You learn how to apply tools across different situations
You learn how to critically evaluate the tools so you know which tool to select, and when.
You learn that different situations require different tools.
You learn to build your own toolbox.
You learn to strengthen your mindset and gain confidence by using the tools.
You learn that some tools can help you to strengthen your mindset
You learn through storytelling and scenarios



build tomorrow's solutions

We listen to leaders, hear their goals, concerns, and struggles, we ask questions to understand what is going on and what they need, then we discuss ways in which we can help them reshape tomorrow. 

Leaders use our business growth services,  or undertake our programs, courses or workshops to learn about 4DLX-Grow or various aspects of the framework.

4DLX-Grow is a simple four phase framework that underneath houses an array of tools, templates, roadmaps, ways of dealing with challenges, and helping people move forward happier, and faster. What we do is show leaders how to use 4DLX-Grow so they can pursue their dreams & build a better tomorrow.

Through 12-years of research with over 5000 leaders 4DLX-Grow was born. The simplicity of the framework means that it helps leaders navigate simple and complex problems in known and unknown situations. Leaders who focus on tomorrow and the challenges with reshaping what tomorrow looks like, are the leaders who get the most out of 4DLX-Grow. 

Leaders tell us using 4DLX-Grow on a regular basis is like putting on a superhero's cape, as the guidelines and the tools help leaders navigate complex issues, audacious problems, uncertainty, and deal with a range of issues big and small. Using 4DLX-Grow helps leaders strengthen confidence in the way they lead their teams through innovation and re-imagining tomorrow's business. 

We help leaders grow, strengthen and/or build human-centered brands and businesses through design thinking, innovation management, leadership, strategic management and luxury branding strategies.



users of 4DLX-Grow

Some of the leaders we help are industry leaders, Government leaders, others are CEOs, board members, executives, leaders of a business unit, customer experience, innovation, or product development team.

Some of our leaders are looking to learn the entire 4DLX-Grow Framework and processes. Other leaders are looking to strengthen areas within the framework.

Leaders can look up aspects of the framework from a variety of sources online and get overwhelmed with information or they can come to us for help.  We note most online information focuses on phase three of the process. Some of these frameworks have four, five or six steps, involving ideas, prototypes, test them, and validating them. All of these steps are within the third phase of our holistic framework.  

What we do differently, we identify what you need, if necessary, we take leaders through the four phases of the framework, which includes the two crucial elements that often get missed and can be the difference between success and failure. 

We help you undertake the "DISCOVER" phase and the "DELIVER" phases, which focus on discovering the "right" problem and successfully implementing the solution that people desire and delivers value to them. We help you brand the solution so that when it is implemented it is easy to share and talk about in your presentations to the board, directors, or with relevant stakeholders.


for leaders, teams & enterprises seeking growth

Build tomorrow
Solve wicked problems 
Navigate VUCA
Human-centered design thinking process
Holistic framework includes mindset, servant leadership, implementation & branding

Discover .png


The first phase is Discover.  Teams engage in divergent thinking to help them gain new insights and learn different viewpoints.  The idea is to select from a variety of empathy or research tools in the toolbox.  Through experience and learning loops to use as many as needed to understand with as many eyes and ears as possible the context so that symptoms can be separated from problems.



The second phase is Define.  Teams engage in convergent thinking, as they synthesize, group, theme, and categorize insights and learnings into maps and canvases to share with decision-makers.  From these visual tools and discussions, a way  forward is defined.  The way forward becomes the guiding light and shared vision that  guides the team.

Design .png


The third phase is  Design.  This starts with the shared vision.  Divergence is key exploring multiple pathways The idea is to design solutions aligning with the shared vision and the business values.  This phase takes into account generating ideas, ideation, and idea refinement, prototyping, testing, and validation.  The team learn through successive attempts, as they navigate through the learning & experience loops.



The fourth and final phase is Deliver.  Convergence is key as the focus is on implementation, delivering value, branding the solution, communications, and acceptance of the idea, which includes internal and external marketing strategy & communications.