Design Thinking

What is design thinking?  

Have you ever taken on a project and thought, “I’m in WAY over my head”?  Of course you have. We all have. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to design thinking 

Simply speaking, design thinking is a human-centered philosophy and a set of tools to help you solve problems creativelyIt focuses on empathizing with and understanding the humans who are at the centre of the problem you are trying to solve.  

Let’s stock up your design thinking toolbox: 

  • First tool  Empathy – Understanding the people that you are designing the solution for.  
  • Second tool – Definition and Detail – Using the information you gathered from empathetic conversations to define the challenge.  
  • Third tool – Ideation – Brainstorming with your colleagues, making suggestions and discussing possibilities 
  • Fourth tool – Prototyping  With the data you’ve collected, your team can begin building a solution.  
  • Fifth tool – Testing  Take your solution for a test drive and see how it handles. At this stage you can also identify additional opportunities for improvement. 

It is important to understand that these tools do not have to be used in a particular order. In fact, when you’re working through a challenge with your design thinking toolbox, you’ll likely revisit each tool multiple times throughout the process to fine tune the solution.  

Nova team members Jennifer and Blake recently took on the challenge of overhauling and inventorying all of Nova Mutual’s communications pieces. When two companies merge, this is a *BIG* job! Having experience with the design thinking approach in her previous role, Jennifer saw this as a great opportunity to break out her toolbox again!  

(This undertaking is the perfect example of how design thinking doesn’t necessarily happen ‘in order’…so Jennifer and Blake started with) 

Definition and Detail

As the two companies merged, our Team needed to collect more information from our new members. When attempting to collect this information, the team realized that the forms we were using could be improved. From here, Jennifer and Blake moved onto 


They enlisted help from our Member-facing Team to gather feedback, getting to the bottom of what exactly about the forms was not working. This tool led them back to Definition and Detail, helping to further define the scope of the problem, i.e. how many forms did we need to make improvements to and how could we improve them? Which led directly to… 


Jennifer and Blake worked with their colleagues to determine how the forms could be improved. Could we turn them into fillable PDF’s? Could we prepopulate documents directly from the program used by our Claims department? Basically, this tool helped them to crowd-source ideas. Then they moved onto… 


Jennifer, BlakeBrand, Underwriting and the Agents worked together to develop a template for all Nova documents. And lastly 


Once the documents were revamped and disseminated, the team solicited feedback from Brokers and members to ensure that we achieved our goal of creating simplified documents which adhere to Nova Mutual’s Brand standards.  

And there you have it – a complex challenge solved by design thinking.  

Written by Emily Gibson, Brand Ambassador