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Design Thinking Foundation

The Design Thinking Foundation course will teach participants how to use Design Thinking principles and theories to design unique products and services that will stand out from the competition.


The Design Thinking Foundation (DTF) course is an introduction to the fundamental concepts of Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a powerful approach to introduce more innovative, customer-centric, and agile thinking into organisations. It plays a central role in innovation and process improvements for organisations such as GE, Google, IBM, and Nestle.

Design Thinking and Service Design can be used to design unique products or services which will stand out from the competition that relate better to what customers really want and need or to optimize existing services and processes cutting away wasteful effort. For that reason, Design Thinking is a popular methodology in the design of automated services.

This 2-day Design Thinking Foundation course adopts a “learning-by-doing” approach and real Design Thinking case studies to help participants apply the fundamentals of Design Thinking to a challenge they are tackling. The training course materials includes using discovery to understand better ways of creating valuable products or services for users and using prototyping approaches to ensure they are building the right product or service before they commit significant money and resources to projects.

Design Thinking Foundation is a freestanding certification from the Service Automation Framework Alliance (SAFA) and provides best practices towards the process of defining innovative products and services. The purpose of the certification and its associated course is to impart, test and validate knowledge of Design Thinking basic vocabulary, principles and practices. The vocabulary terms, concepts and practices are documented in the course learner materials.

Design Thinking Foundation is intended to provide individuals with an understanding of basic Design Thinking concepts and how Design Thinking may be used to introduce more innovative, customer-centric, and agile thinking into organisations. The Design Thinking Foundation course has two key goals:

  1. Get practical. Learn and get hands-on experience using key Design Thinking tools and approaches on a real challenge.
  2. Explore the potential for Design Thinking in improving our products/services or to uncover new growth opportunities.

This course positions learners to successfully complete the Design Thinking Foundation certification exam


The course objectives of the Design Thinking Foundation course include a practical understanding of:

  • The Design Thinking schools of thought, process, and abilities behind the approach.
  • The phases of the Design Thinking process and how they can be applied to design innovative services.
  • Observe and engage customers based on the Design Thinking approach.
  • The different approaches to that are used in the empathise phase to define design problems.
  • Different probing techniques that are commonly used in Design
  • The ways to Reframe the challenge into a Point of View that functions as a solution-generating springboard.
  • Common ways to explore a wide solution space – both a large quantity and broad diversity of ideas.
  • Design prototypes that better serve user needs.
  • Test prototypes with users to gather feedback and refine the solution


This qualification is aimed at individuals who require a working knowledge of the key principles of Design Thinking, who need to know the terminology used and some of the theory behind the practice.

The target audience of the Design Thinking Foundation Qualification therefore includes:

  • Product Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Growth Manager
  • R&D Manager
  • Product Head
  • Senior Designer
  • UX Designer
  • Design Engineer
  • Creative Manager
  • UX Design Consultant
  • Art Director
  • C-Suite executives
  • Innovation and Growth Consultants


Participants to the Design Thinking Foundation course will receive the following study materials:

  • Sixteen (16) hours of instructor-led training and exercise facilitation
  • Learner Manual (excellent post-class reference)
  • Participation in unique exercises designed to apply concepts
  • Sample documents, templates, tools and techniques
  • Access to additional value-added resources and communities


There are no official prerequisites. Familiarity with basic process language is preferred.


Successfully passing (65%) the 60-minute examination, consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions, leads to the Design Thinking Foundation (DTF) Certificate. The examination and certification process is administered by APMG-International on behalf of the Service Automation Framework Alliance.


Module 1: Introduction to Design Thinking

  • The two different schools of thought in Design Thinking
  • The eight core abilities of Design Thinking
  • The definition of Design Thinking
  • How Design Thinking relates to service automation
  • How Design Thinking is different from other problem-solving approaches
  • Common approaches in the design of innovative services

Module 2: Business Objectives of Design Thinking

  • The brief history of Design Thinking and its main developments from the 1960s to the 2010s
  • Design Thinking as a capability in organizations
  • Design Thinking as a process in organizations
  • Different ways and methodologies in which Design Thinking can be applied in a business context
  • Successful case studies that use Design Thinking Principles

Module 3: RPA Processes Design

  • The catalogue of RPA Processes
  • Determining which processes are suitable for RPA
  • Process visualization techniques and best practices
  • Different types of workflows (sequences, flowcharts, and transactional business processes.

Module 4: Empathize – The Heart of Design

  • The three goals of the Emphasise Phase
  • The key methods in the Emphasise Phase
  • Interviewing and engagement techniques
  • The four different probing techniques
  • Common Interview tips and mistakes
  • Sampling techniques to recruit users
  • The difference between taking notes versus quotes

Module 5: Define – Reframe the Problem

  • The Define mode and how it is used in the Design Thinking process
  • Categorizations of the download wall – show, tell and capture
  • Addressing users groups, commonalities, pain points and new questions
  • Building insights from observations
  • The Development of a Point of View
  • Capturing the hearts and minds of the people you meet
  • The definition of insights
  • Key elements of the Points of View framework
  • Making user needs narrower or broader with the abstraction ladder
  • How opportunities are different and inspiring

Module 6: Idea – Beyond the Basic Brainstorms

  • The Ideate mode and how it is used in the Design Thinking process
  • Different brainstorming prompts
  • Fundamental brainstorming rules
  • How to set up a successful brainstorm
  • The creation of an inspiration sheet
  • The selection of brainstorming ideas
  • Imposing constraints to increase creative potential

Module 7: Prototype – Get Smarter, Faster

  • The purpose and goals of prototyping
  • Reasons why we prototype for empathy
  • Different prototyping techniques
  • Different ways (sketch, play, simulate) to prototype for empathy
  • The improves to life tool
  • The application of the scenes/props/roles tool

Module 8: Test – Early and Often

  • The purpose of the test mode
  • Reason for testing and refining prototypes
  • Testing with users and actively observing
  • The feedback capture matrix
  • The purpose and application of test ethics in experimentation
  • The three Ds of prototyping (Direct, Defend, Design)
  • The three Ps of prototyping (Pivot, Persevere, Perfect)

Module 9: Design Thinking and Service Automation

  • Introduction to service automation
  • The Service Automation Framework
  • Service Design in the Service Automation Framework
  • The Service Automation Blueprint
  • The Design Thinking Process for automated services

Module 10: The Design Thinking Foundation Exam

  • Review of course materials
  • The Design Thinking sample exam
  • The official Design Thinking Foundation exam