Stanford The Bootcamp Bootleg (2013)

The Bootcamp Bootleg is a working document published through the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (also known as the that describes the Stanford Design Thinking Process. This process can be used for an innumerable amount of problems that apply to several different kinds of stakeholders and industries. In other words, the Stanford Design Thinking Process applies to adopting competency-based education as well as many other things. Therefore, the process that is described below speaks more generally than the two other processes summarized in this paper.

The Stanford Design Thinking Process follows five sequential “modes” that all build on a human-centered approach grounded in empathy.


The Bootcamp Bootleg says that, “as a human-centered designer you need to understand the people for whom you are designing…you must build empathy for who they are and what is important to them” (Stanford, 2013). During this mode of the design process a human-centered designer does three things:

  • Observe the users' context and their behavior.
  • Engage the users, interact and interview them.
  • Immerse yourself in the users' experiences.


After you have immersed yourself in the users' experiences, you analyze and synthesize your “empathy findings” to accomplish two goals:

  • Develop a deep understanding of your users and the design space.
  • Write an actionable problem statement: your point of view (POV).

The designer’s POV should provide focus and frames the problem but also fuels the design team’s development of solution concepts that guide your innovation efforts.


More focused than a typical brainstorming session, the ideation mode aims to “explore a wide solution space—both a large quantity of ideas and a diversity among those ideas” (Stanford, 2013). The Bootcamp Bootleg continues to advise design teams to be cognizant and differentiate between when you generate ideas and when you evaluate them. During this mode you are searching for solutions that are unexpected and not altogether obvious.


This mode takes your design team’s ideas “out of your head and into the physical world” (Stanford, 2013). Here ideas are implemented on a smaller scale with the intended purpose of working out the kinks discovered by physically interacting with the idea. Failure is expected and valued here because it will help you correct issues before scaling the idea.


Similar to the last stages described by Sturgis and Horn, the Test mode is intended to by cyclical, iterative and designed to make the idea better as you react to how it is being implemented. The say to “Prototype as if you know you are right, but test as if you know you’re wrong.”

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