Course Description

Design Research for Design Thinking


On this Design Research for Design Thinking course you will learn how to implement an intentional, best-practice research process that is a good use of participants time and that produces useful, actionable results. This will be taught within the context and framework of design thinking.

We have experimented over the years with different ways of teaching research skills ranging from the most practical to the most theoretical. We have come to believe that the most effective way is to use a facilitated learn-by-doing approach.

Design Research for Design Thinking

Course Programme


On-boarding (3 hours)

A short session to define the broad Design Thinking principles that underpin this approach to research, meet the group, define how we want to show up for our time together, find our feet in the on-line workspace Mural and we address research bias.


Module 1: Research Design [3 hours + homework]

Theory: We kick off with a look at the contemporary research landscape. Newest thinking on research methodology and topics of concern relevant to responsible and effective research at this moment in time.

Practice: We present a research problem as case study, decide on the best research methodology, define the research instruments to be used, define a sample structure, develop a recruitment brief and script, set up a fieldwork plan and define key roles.


Module 2: Conceptualisation [3 hours]

Theory: We draw from psychology for best practice on establishing rapport and learn how to motivate a participant to fully engage with a study and make a meaningful contribution. We look at 3 basic human needs that every research encounter should address and we consider 6 macro-lenses through which any lived reality can be investigated. We briefly look at ‘what I wish I knew before I collected this data’.

Practice: Within this theoretical framework we design research instruments that will optimise participant engagement, relevance and quality of data collected. We think ahead to working with the data collected and ensure that we also optimise our instruments for analysis and interpretation. We conclude preparation for our time in field with a dry-run pilot and peer feedback.


Module 3: Data collection [3 hours]

This is a practical module in which we collect qualitative data.


Module 4: Working with qualitative data [3 hours + homework]

Theory: Module 4 is the crux of this programme. Being intentional in the design, conceptualisation and implementation of the research methodology produces a rich  qualitative data-set. But this data is not worth anything if not interpreted. In this module, we will learn how to interpret data, identify pain-points and fundamental human needs and distil findings into insights.

Practice: We follow a semi-structured, intentional analysis process to interpret the data collected.


Module 5: Output [1 hr inspiration + offline work and review]

Theory: How to tell a compelling data-based story.

Practice:  “It’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.” Jan Johnson


Participants will complete this course by publishing their choice of one of two writing assignments:

  • A reflection on technical, methodological learnings gained


  • An evidence-based piece reporting on findings gleaned from the research


Delegates must publish this post on a respected public platform relevant to their industry (i.e. LinkedIn, Medium or a blog).

Delegates may co-author this post with another delegate if they wish, provided both parties make an equal contribution.

On publishing the writing assignment, delegates will be awarded a certificate from DesignThinkersAcademy for the successful completion of this research course.

Participant profile

This is a qualitative research course and the case study used in this edition of the course will be B2C commercial market research. An interest in market research, brand theory and humans-as-consumers would be an asset. No prior experience in research is needed.

A B2B and social research (NGO’s) case study is scheduled for later in the year – please enquire at for further information.

Facilitators and coaches

This course is developed and presented by Jani de Kock. Jani holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and has been working in market research in Sub-Saharan Africa for 17 years. She has taught research at leading tertiary institutions and mentored new insights professionals in the workplace. She has found that a learn-by-doing approach like the one suggested here is the most effective way to teach research skills.

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About this Event

Length – 3 weeks, 2 sessions per week, 15 contact hours + homework

Time – 10h00 to 12h30 (South African and Central European Time)


Session 1: Tuesday 17 Nov 10:00-12:30
Session 2: Thursday 19 Nov 10:00-12:30
Session 3: Tuesday 24 Nov  10:00-12:30
Session 4: Thursday 26 Nov  10:00-12:30
Session 5: Tuesday 1 Dec  10:00-12:30
Session 6: Thursday 3 Dec 10:00-12:30

Online platform – Zoom + Mural or Miro

Language – English


Early Bird Tickets ZAR 6 250,00  (valid until 31 October 2020)

Regular Tickers ZAR 6 950,00

Prices are excluding VAT.
If you are based outside South Africa we will not charge you with VAT. 

Your ticket includes access and use of the online environments for the duration of the course.
All tools and materials are also available after the course for personal use.
A certificate from DesignThinkers Academy is awarded to participants who successfully complete the course.
Discounts are available for teams signing up, Freelancers, Non-Profits and Government Organizations.


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