Design Thinking

Design as a way of thinking can be traced back as early as the late 60's, yet only in the past 20 years has design thinking been applied critically to the business world. In essence, design thinking is a creative and critical process used to approach and address complex and multi-demensional problems. It it comprised of three main elements, each with respective skill sets: 1) Inspiration - developing empathy for the context of problems; 2) Ideation - creatively generating new ideas and analyzing for possible solutions; 3) Implementation - synthesizing the best ideas into concrete and actionable solutions.

Though many names and terminologies have been associated with this process, it is fundamentally a learning cycle, one which we feel does not need reinventing. That is why Taproot has chosen to use the specific terminology and techniques codified by to introduce and practice the process of design thinking. Though our program brings together design thinking and Christian Community Development principles under one unique curriculum, we encourage you to explore the world of design thinking for yourself.

Taproot's Model


  • Critical Awareness - Consists of learning and practicing anthropological and ethnographic skills in the field and deriving meaning from common practices and observations.
  • Active Participation - Consists of hands-on exploration and bearing the weight of typical worker responsibilities.


  • Brainstorming, vetting, prototyping and iterating possible solutions - Relies heavily on creativity, teamwork, a multi-disciplinary approach, intuition and constructive feedback.
  • Effective flow between divergent and convergent thinking. 


  • The application of insights gained from Inspiration and Ideation phases 
    • Product or Service Development - Feasibility Study
  • Basic business principles and tools - 
    • Developing a project or business plan
    • Designing and using Excel to create Profit & Loss, Cash Flow, and Break Even spreadsheets. 
  • Maintain a healthy balance between numerous concrete details and broad vision using the principles of Effect, Efficiency, and Expansion.