Double Diamond Model

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This article will present the Double Diamond Model, including the utilization of the concept and purpose of the model, and further reflect on limitations and advantages of the method presented once applying it in a project management setting. Ensuring the optimal deployment of the model, into how the project is planned, managed and executed once addressing the various needs and concerns of stakeholders, balancing project constraints such as scope, quality, and risk in various project circumstances and throughout the project life cycle for an optimal outcome.

The Double Diamond was launched by the British Design Council in 2004, as a part of the framework for innovation to deal with complex economic, social, and environmental challenges.[1] The model represents a comprehensive design process and includes key principles in order to achieve significant and long-lasting results for the right problem. The process consists of four stages Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver, divided into two Diamonds. The first diamond concentrates on understanding the problem and a problem definition, namely the Discover and Define phase, also referred to as the problem space. The second diamond concerns the problem-solving phase, namely the Develop and Define phase, also referred to as the solution space. Both the problem and solutions are being approached from a divergent and a convergent approach, which each of the four stages is either characterized by.[1]

The Big Idea & Project Management relation

The model has been developed on the basis of a larger study of 11 top companies' design department processes across many industries. The process should not be performed linearly, on the contrary, several iterations of the various stages are encouraged. Particularly so in the digital age in which we find ourselves, which is constantly changing. In this age no product or service as such is fully developed, especially considering the constant feedback that is possible to receive, concepts are continually improved.[1] Furthermore, the Double Diamond model is particularly suitable for structuring collaboration and user involvement in the design process of new solutions. [2] Likewise, the importance of finding the correct problem and understanding it and the cause of the problem in depth and developing and selecting the correct solution for this particular problem or need is emphasized. In reality, the problem identification phase is equated with the solution phase in the Double Diamond model, therefore the involvement of users who are affected by the problem field, as well as testing of a solution concept by these users is a high priority in the model, by including various methods for the respective activities.[1]

Additionally, the Double Diamond model advocates essentials aspects to involve in a project management setting, primarily in regards of the planning process of the project by providing an overview of stages which the project needs to go through thereby ensuring a structure for stage planning and additional activities which needs to be facilitated in order to achieve the planned outcome, which furthermore is given by the Double Diamond framework. Furthermore by emphasizing the importance of controlling the delivery stage of a project, ensuring acceptance, execution and delivery of the project is aligned by obtaining approval from stakeholders. Which according to PRINCE2 - Managing Successful Projects, is essential for a project success.[3] And by incorporating formal stage gates in Double Diamond the project manager evidently ensures the project is addressing the various needs and concerns of stakeholders, which further enables the project manager to balance constraints such as, scope, quality, and risk throughout the project life cycle for an optimal outcome. [3] As presented in the PMBOK Guide: Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge, adaptive approaches for project scheduling is becoming increasingly important to consider in regards of short cycles of project work, obtain rapid feedback, reviewing the belonging results, and adapt as necessary. Which is exactly the Big Idea behind the Double Diamond model, iterative scheduling. However, be aware of the discrepancy once integrating this approach into a larger setting with additional organizational, regulatory and technical complexity. To ensure a successful integration and delivery it will be important and critical for the project manager to effectively apply and supplement the iterative and adaptive approach, whit more traditional approaches ensuring robustness to the project life cycle.[4] Finally is creates an foundation for a interdisciplinary team development, ensuring that the defined problem of the project is recognized and analyzed from different perspectives and disciplines. Thereby contributing to the overall success of the project by carefully selecting a diverse team, based on professional and personal experiences and characteristics, which will be necessary for the outcome of the project.

Furthermore such methods are increasingly being utilized in a project management setting where new coming methodologies such as the Agile Project Management and Scrum is challenging the traditional Project Management approach.[5] These iterative approaches is becoming more important to incorporate in a project management setting, due to adjustments, uncertainty and unpredictable changes within the given environment of the project, abandoning the disadvantages that lies within the more linear approach to properly handle the complexity and dynamics of todays projects. Evidently the Double Diamond model ensures an overall framework for the project, subsequently dividing it into several stages with respective purposes and approaches, and as shown in later sections providing belonging methods to utilize within the given stages according the circumstances of the individual project. The project manager is now enabled to schedule activities in sprints according the situation, if the Double Diamond is deployed.[5]

The Problem Space

The Double Diamond process has been divided into an investigation phase of the problem, namely the problem space, which concentrates on the importance of thoroughly understanding the problem or need, ensuring the right cause is being determined to correctly solve the identified problem or need. Once entering the problem space, the solution-oriented approach should be abandoned, especially during the divergent Discover stage, it is important to accomplish an in-depth insight of the problem field and the user specific requirements. Ensuring that once the Define has been initialized the convergent approach of defining the problem, is being performed on well discovered foundation, to make certain the right problem or cause of problem is being processed, to address the expected benefits of the relevant stakeholders.[1]

The Solution Space

The second phase of the Double Diamond is referred to as the solution space which is entirely depending on the problem definition produced in the problem space. The solution space is now initiated by the Develop stage which should be managed through a divergent approach, concentrating on developing a wide range of potential solutions and concepts for the identified problem definition. By producing a variety of solutions, the potential of choosing an inefficient concept for related problem has thereby been reduced. The final part of the solution space includes the Deliver stage which assembles and converge a given concept by communicating and testing the different concepts for the belonging problem, refining the concept for an optimal outcome, realizing the benefits perceived by stakeholders.[1]

The Framework for Innovation

When launched by the British Design Council the Double Diamond Model became a part of the Framework for Innovation to deal with complex economic, social, and environmental challenges.[1] Which also includes the Design Principles, Methods Bank and Culture of success which should be combined during the process in order to achieve significant results.

The framework for Innovation outlines four key design principles to adopt for effective problem solving. First principle outlines the importance of understanding the user needs and aspirations by putting people first. The second principle is highlighting to help people to gain a shared understanding of the problem, by communicating visually and inclusively. Third principle of the Framework for Innovation stresses the potential gain from co-creation and collaboration. And finally, the fourth principle considers the value of iterations during the process, to spot and stop errors as early as possible, minimizing the potential of significant risk late the project life cycle.[1]

Furthermore, the Methods Bank elaborates 25 design methods which the British Design Council has authored and adapted to address and identify problems. Structured in three subcategories namely, Explore; the challenges, needs and opportunities, Shape; prototypes, insights and visions, and Build; ideas, plans and expertise.

Finally, the Framework discusses the need of creating a Culture of Success. This element emphasizes the requirement of establishing a robust leadership to encourage innovation, build skills and capability, which allows projects to be agile and thereby ensuring the ability to change. Additionally, the framework details the need of engagement, developing connections and a relationship can motivate and enhance the delivery and receiving of new concepts.[1]


Figure 1: Visualization of the Double Diamond Model, that presents four stages across two adjacent diamonds:

The Double Diamond model is a representation of a design process that presents four stages across two adjacent diamonds. The structure of the model is used to understand a given problem or need, and subsequently work out potential solutions for them. The first diamond in the model deals with problem definition and understanding of a problem field and contains the "Discover" and "Define" phase. The second diamond deals with the problem-solving phase and contains the "Develop" and "Deliver" phase. As a starting point, it can be expected to make several iterations of the different phases, as the process is not linear. Each phase is characterized by either a convergent or divergent approach. The divergent approach is characterized by opening many problems, investigating and combining already known facts in new constellations. In contrast, the focus of the convergent approach is to want to narrow down opportunities or focus on a specific problem.[2]

The model can be used in design projects where a given problem or need is desired to be solved or addressed. As a starting point, the model can be used in connection with structuring a given project and due to the model being extremely versatile, it can be used in many circumstances regardless of the subject-specific context as a structuring tool to plan the project and specific activities within the given phase of the project. In parallel with the usual project management. When transitioning from phase to phase, it is necessary to perceive these as being gates for the course of action, ie. the work performed in the previous stage should be summarized and presented and an acceptance of the project's progress should take place.[1]

In the following sections, each of the four stages is presented, including the purpose, planning and execution of each respective stage. Additionally, complementary methods for the execution of each individual stage will be suggested accordingly. However, be aware that additional reference for relevant methods to be incorporated is presented in the Annotated Bibliography, including the purpose and execution of the method for the relevant stage. It will be important for the project manager to be aware of the broad spectrum of methods in order to incorporate and utilize the most appropriate method for the respective situation, for the project.


The first phase, Discover, is mainly a divergent research phase, and aims to define, investigate, and map the context of the original problem or vision. This can be done through various user surveys, study of trends, stakeholder interviews, and general gathering of knowledge from various sources. Finally, potential problem statements are formulated and based upon the examination. In connection with the preparation of this initial phase, the following methods can be used. Note that the suggested methods below are merely a recommendation of potential methods and is not an exhaustive list.

- Five Why’s: Is a method to discover the base or multiple reasons for a given problems occurrence or existence.

- Mind Map: Is a method to map and visualize input and thoughts and their relations originated by a given topic.

- Participant observation: Is an ethnographic field research method, by both participating and observing a given environment and thereby acquiring relevant insights.

- Qualitative interview: Is an interview method concentrated on understanding and attaining special knowledge from the informant’s point of view.

- Stakeholder Analysis: Is a method focused on mapping stakeholders within a specific area of interest, analyzing their relationship with one another.


The purpose of the define phase is to process and evaluate the collected data and based on this clearly define and limit a problem as a basis for further work. The identified problem is based and evaluated in terms of its relevance and scope, and should be narrowed down to be specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable and timely (SMART)[6]. This stage is characterized by convergent thinking; however, it is important to still maintain a broad perspective while performing the preliminary activities.[2] The below listed methods is suggested to be incorporated once entering the Define phase.

- Cluster Analysis: Is a method used for organizing and analyzing information and data obtained from Interviews, Observations, etc. to gain insights when connections are formed.

- Challenge Map: Is a method which utilizes fieldwork information, such as quotes and pictures, to address and gain insights into a given problem or topic.

- How might we…?: Is a method used for framing the challenge, by simple asking “How might we…?.

- Ecosystem: Is a method to construct an overview of complex system or relationship by visualizing links between various elements, interactions, and effects.

- SWOT Analysis: Is a method used for investigating a solution or organization Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, and opportunities.


In the Develop phase, the focus is now shifted from problem-oriented to solution-oriented, from a convergent to divergent approach. The phase aims to develop and re-evaluate one or more concepts that are valid in relation to the user and the expected deliveries, as well as technology and Business Case, based on the problems or used needs discovered in the former stages.[2] These activities can be done by incorporating some of the following methods.

- Business Model Canvas: Is a method used to develop and describe business models for either projects or businesses.

- Classic Brainstorm: Is a method used to generate lots of ideas.

- Rapid Prototyping: Is a method used to generate several prototypes (unfinished / test version of a product, service of process) in a short time span, in order to develop, test and communicate concepts.

- User Journey: Is a method used to visualize the user experience of a given product or service, in order to communicate and validate a current product or service or a new concept.

- Service Blueprint: Is a method used to visualize the organizational processes which support the particular service user experience as well as new concepts.


Based on the number of concepts developed in the previous phase, Develop, the Deliver phase must identify the best solution. The developed concepts are communicated, tested, and controlled, for example through prototypes. This part is done iteratively, so that feedback and experiences improve the solution in terms of meeting needs, value creation and feasibility. And finally the delivery is accepted and approved by relevant stakeholders.

- User Test: Is a method used to test the usability and reveal deficiencies of a given concept, for example a physical product or digital platform, in relation to user needs.

- Idea Selection Based on Weighted Criteria: Is a method used to select a given concept based on a series preselected weighted criteria.

- Innovation Matrix: Is a method used to assess and select between various concepts based on particular criteria, in order to evaluate and compare the idea.

- Changeboards: Is a method used to visualize, support and structure development, evaluation, and communication of the concept.

- Pitch: Is a method used to communicate the concept and test the concept with users, by receiving feedback.


PRINCE2[3] Managing Successful Projects, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing stage transitions and project planning, so that the project board can handle and decide on the project's further course or completion, in relation to associated risk, uncertainty and achieved results. Although the Double Diamond Model presents a number of decision stages and general framework for a process structure, the model also encourages being iterative and, if necessary, jumping from phase to phase depending on the results obtained in the respective phase. Likewise, the Double Diamond model on its own is not adequate for planning and structuring a project and will therefore needs to be supplemented by a number of project management tools. In the same way as described in the Application section, it is necessary to continuously incorporate and combine various design and study methods and principles, as well as to understand and know when and how these are best used in the respective phase for the optimal result.

Furthermore, the model does not tell when and how one's work is satisfactory for the further work. The model does not name a time horizon or scope of the respective phase, so depending on the individual project, whether the phase is divergent or convergent, there may be variations in both the amount of work, time and necessary resources and experience. Thus, it can be difficult to assess whether the information collected and or the number of tests performed is satisfactory for progression in the project. This can easily lead to mistrust between the associated stakeholders as the clear plan for a completed project has not been determined, due to the lack of guidance in the Double Diamond model. Finally the Double Diamond model is not appropriate to apply on projects where the outcome is predefined, the approach is simply not efficient if the goals and directions of the possible solution already is given. It will once again be more effective to apply traditional scheduling and planning methods.

Annotated Bibliography

The annotated bibliography presents relevant references for further reading regarding the Double Diamond Model.

[1] The following article discusses and presents several methods which can be incorporated for the Discover stage of the Double Diamond process. Including the purpose and additionally the utilization of the method and finally the incorporation of the method in the respective stage:

[2] The following article discusses and presents several methods which can be incorporated for the Define stage of the Double Diamond process. Including the purpose and additionally the utilization of the method and finally the incorporation of the method in the respective stage:

[3] The following article discusses and presents several methods which can be incorporated for the Develop stage of the Double Diamond process. Including the purpose and additionally the utilization of the method and finally the incorporation of the method in the respective stage:

[4] The following article discusses and presents several methods which can be incorporated for the Deliver stage of the Double Diamond process. Including the purpose and additionally the utilization of the method and finally the incorporation of the method in the respective stage:

[5] The following article discusses the limitations of the original Double Diamond model presented by the British Design Council. And presents a new revised model, the Revamped Double Diamond model, the original approach and the fundamentals of the framework remain the same. However the article suggest several sub processes within the original framework for further guidance and utilization of the framework for the optimal result:

[6] Scheduling in Project Management:

[7] The following article presents creation of the Double Diamond model by providing examples, lessons and insight from the case study of the global design corporations:

[8] Finally if you found the subject regarding Convergent and Divergent thinking particular interesting, and furthermore if you want learn more about the basic concepts of the Double Diamond framework the following article presents the Design Thinking process and Human-Centered Design:,services%2C%20processes%2C%20and%20organizations.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Design Council.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Double Diamond.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 PRINCE2
  4. Guide To Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Agile Project Methodology
  6. SMART Goals
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