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What Is It?

A design brief captures the purpose, intent, process, and outcomes of an innovation process in a concise and compelling way.


It creates a container and intent for your experimentation and learning, and it should make sense to you, as well as others that you want to involve in the process. It captures what is currently known about the convening question, as well as the tensions and big questions that the innovation process will wrestle with. 

Inspired by the work of Donnella Meadows

When Is It Used?

A design brief is often used at the very beginning of a process, to set the boundaries for the upcoming work as well as to help identify the right people to include, and the right processes to use. It is often refined or iterated after the observation and action research and systems thinking work, as new insights will emerge and the boundary described in the design brief may need to shift.

How It Works

A design brief template is provided as a guide to help you to write your design brief. Use it as a skilled chef treats a recipe - these are important ingredients, but there is room to embellish and adapt it to your taste. You likely won’t be able to answer all of these questions at the very beginning of a project. There are some links throughout the template that take you to additional resources for some of the terms that you may be less familiar with.

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