Do You Double Diamond?

June 8, 2021


Have you heard of the Double Diamond Design Process? Or maybe the update (with a less catchy name) called the Framework for Innovation? If you are an entrepreneur or business leader tackling a new challenge, it is a concept worth knowing about.

I am a big fan of double diamonds. The snowy steep kind, and the gnarly dirt kind. And now, the business process kind. An old friend (a ski buddy, of course) introduced me to the idea. I grokked it immediately. It gave me words and structure - context to help make sense of seeming chaos.

What is the Double Diamond Design Process?

The core idea of the Double Diamond is that clarity expands (diverges) and contracts (converges) twice during a project that involves original creation (design). Things get fuzzy and broad, then they tighten up. First during planning and again during execution.

When planning, as the idea and challenge is explored, a wide net is cast. Ideas flow. Opportunity abounds. Things diverge. Then decisions and assumptions are made and brought into focus. Things converge. Now we are at the center of the two diamonds.

The center is an important place. At this point, we typically have a clear definition of the problem to solve, the 'job to be done'.

When execution begins (for example, databases written and coding started), the initial work can be wide ranging and variable. Foundations are being built and it may be difficult to see progress that looks anything like a final product. Then inevitably this too begins a contraction, as the focused work drives to the finish line (however defined).

Mapping, not Prescribing

Many business processes lean heavily on prescription. Do this. Follow these steps. Check these boxes. Double Diamond is more elegant- less an exposition and more a mapping of reality. So use it or don’t… any suitably vague design challenge will still follow a path akin to the Double Diamond.

Here’s why I find this so useful:

  • Know what you are getting into - It can be very helpful to know ahead of time how a project with a clear goal but unclear path will unfold.
  • Embrace the chaos of the expansion - Wide-ranging exploration can feel unsettling and those that tend toward control freak like myself may want to rush this part. Don’t do it! Enjoy the ride and let the process work.
  • Help your partners, stakeholder, clients understand - A map keeps everyone calmer. Contextualizing project work lets folks know what to expect and how to contribute at any given step.

It is human nature to see a project through your personal bias. Cost. Time. Resources. The Double Diamond Design Process exists independent of these variables. It lets us take a more objective view. It is in tune with the way humans actually operate. Things are sometimes disjointed, and often success is a temporary high point after a series of half failures. It can be very helpful to have a map through the chaos.

Dig Deeper

Learn more about the Double Diamond from Design Council, the folks who created it.

See how designers and UX pros are thinking about Double Diamond with these in depth articles:

The New Double Diamond Design Process Is Here by Dennis Hambeukers on the Design Leadership Notebook
Observing the Double Diamond process in practice by Teisanu Tudor on UX Collective.