Design Thinking is not what most think it is…

Design Thinking is invaluable for event organisers because it brings a user-focused, creative, and integrated approach to the event planning process, ultimately resulting in more engaging, more memorable, and more successful events.

In our previous blog we covered what Design Thinking is, the key principles and steps to applying the approach to event planning. In this article we tackle the common misconceptions people have regarding Design Thinking as we outline what Design Thinking is not.

Understanding these misconceptions and the true nature of Design Thinking can help event organisers apply the methodology more effectively.

What Design Thinking is NOT:

1) Design think is not only about design and aesthetics

While aesthetics can be a part of it, Design Thinking is more about the overall experience, including the flow of activities, engagement, and how attendees interact with the event.

2) It’s not only for designers:

Some people believe that Design Thinking is a practice reserved for professional designers. In reality, it’s a methodology that can be applied by anyone involved in event planning, including organisers, marketers, and even attendees who provide feedback.

3) It’s not a linear process

Design Thinking is often wrongly seen as a strictly linear process with defined stages that must be followed in a set order. In reality, it’s a flexible framework that encourages iteration and may involve revisiting and revising earlier stages as new insights emerge.

4) It’s not time-consuming

There is a misconception that Design Thinking is a time-consuming process that can’t be integrated into the tight timelines of event planning. While it can be thorough, Design Thinking principles can be adapted to various timeframes, and some Design Thinking techniques can be implemented quickly.

5) Design thinking is not expensive

Another misconception is that implementing Design Thinking requires a significant budget for research, prototyping, and testing. While some aspects may involve costs, Design Thinking often leads to more efficient and cost-effective solutions by identifying and addressing issues early in the planning process.

6) It’s not all about technology

In the digital age, there’s a misconception that Design Thinking always involves incorporating the latest technology into an event. While technology can enhance events, Design Thinking is not exclusively about technology. It’s about finding solutions that address attendees’ needs and challenges, which may or may not involve technology.

7) Design Thinking is not a ‘one-size fits all’

Some believe that a single Design Thinking approach can be applied to all events. In reality, Design Thinking should be tailored to the specific goals, audience, and context of each event. What works for a corporate conference may not be suitable for a music festival, for example.

8) Design Thinking cannot solve every problem

Design Thinking is a powerful approach, but it may not be the best fit for every problem or challenge an event organiser faces. It’s essential to understand when to use Design Thinking and when to consider other problem-solving methods. 

9) It’s not a guarantees of sucess

While Design Thinking can lead to more effective and engaging events, it doesn’t guarantee automatic success. Success also depends on factors like planning, execution, marketing, and external factors. Design Thinking is a tool that helps improve the odds of success but doesn’t eliminate all risk.

10) Design Thinking is not static and unchanging

Events are dynamic, and attendee needs and preferences can change. A misconception is that Design Thinking results are static and unchanging. In reality, successful event organizers use Design Thinking iteratively, adjusting based on feedback and evolving trends.

Understanding these misconceptions and the true nature of Design Thinking can help event organisers apply the methodology effectively to create more engaging and successful events.

Design Thinking: where problems become opportunities, ideas transform into solutions and unforgettable experiences that linger in the hearts and minds of attendees. 

Imagine a colourful kaleidoscope where diverse thoughts and experiences converge, creating a mesmerising pattern of possibilities. Design Thinking is the ultimate innovation jam session. It’s like conducting a symphony of ideas, turning every brief into a vibrant kaleidoscope of solutions that is focused entirely on the end-user.

Design Thinking is a dynamic process of turning challenges into triumphs, where creativity and empathy dance to compose a melody of groundbreaking ideas and unforgettable moments; It’s also the art of navigating through this kaleidoscope, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary by infusing a human touch into every stroke of creativity.

What is Design Thinking and why is it invaluable for event organisers

Design Thinking is a problem-solving and innovation methodology that originated in the field of product design, but has since found widespread application in various industries, including event planning and management. For event organisers, it has become crucial because it helps in creating more engaging and successful events by prioritising the needs and preferences of their attendees.

In essence, Design Thinking for events is a holistic approach, seamlessly blending creativity, empathy, and user-centric design to transform events into memorable experiences that do more than deliver on the event objective.

Design Thinking is invaluable for event organisers because it brings a user-focused, creative, and integrated approach to the event planning process, ultimately resulting in more engaging, memorable, and successful events.

Design Thinking is a process that puts understanding the end-users (in this case, event attendees) and their needs at the forefront of design and decision-making. It incorporates a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving and innovation, combining elements of empathy, ideation, and prototyping to create solutions that are both effective and user-focused.

Key principles of Design Thinking

  • Gain a deep understanding of the needs, desires, and challenges of the people you are designing for, which, in the context of event planning, are the attendees.
  • Clearly define the problem or challenge you’re trying to solve. This step is crucial for ensuring that everyone involved is aligned on the goal.
  • Generate a wide range of creative solutions and ideas for addressing the defined problem.
  • Create tangible representations or mock-ups of potential solutions to test and refine.
  • Collect feedback from users (event attendees) through the prototype and make improvements based on their input.
Design Thinking

Key principles of Design Thinking

Enhanced Attendee Experience

Through Design Thinking, event organisers can create more engaging and memorable experiences for attendees by understanding their needs and preferences and tailoring event design, content, and interactions accordingly.

Innovation and Creativity

Design Thinking fosters out-of-the-box thinking and creative problem-solving, leading to fresh and innovative event concepts and activities.

Efficient Problem Solving

By accurately defining the problem and involving stakeholders in ideation and testing, Design Thinking leads to more effective solutions, reducing the risk of costly mistakes during the event.

User-Centered Approach

Design Thinking places attendees at the core of the event planning process, enabling organisers to create events that resonate with their target audience.

5 steps to applying Design Thinking in event planning


Conduct surveys, interviews, and observations to gain insights into attendee needs and preferences.


Clearly outline the problem or opportunity based on the information collected.


Brainstorm with a diverse team to generate a wide range of ideas for event concepts and experiences.


Create mock-ups or prototypes of event elements, such as agendas, activities, and spaces.


Gather feedback from potential attendees and make adjustments to the event plan based on their input.

Examples of Design Thinking in action

Encore applies design thinking to every event we produce. Read about the work our team have done for Amway China’s New Zealand Odyssey.