During the journey from defining the initial problem up to the scaling of a start-up, different approaches and tools are helpful. The “Problem to Growth & Scale Framework” combines different approaches that build on each other. The steps are especially useful for the entrepreneur, who is at the beginning of his journey and has identified a real problem that needs to be solved.

Start-ups use design thinking at an early stage, but how does the journey goes on?

The framework comprises six important steps on the way to a scaling company:
Step 1: Design Thinking
Step 2: Research
Step 3: Co-Creation
Step 4: Lean Start-up
Step 5: Business Design & Agile Product- and Customer Development
Step 6: Scale

What is important in step 1 “Design Thinking”?

  • Start with Design Thinking. Identify your potential users, customers and stakeholders.
  • Recognize the true customer needs and find elegant and simple solutions.
  • Determine a first vision of the value proposition for the potential users and customers.
  • Use Systems Thinking and Data Analytics to understand complex issues and to gain deeper insights.

How can “research” support getting market and customer figures (Should this not be “data”?) in step 2?

  • Understand the problem and the situation holistically.
  • Use market research and other analytical approaches to quantitatively assess the problem and the situation.
  • Validate and supplement your findings.

Why “Co-Creation” (step 3) benefits each phase?

  • Integrate additional customers and users as well as lead users in your process.
  • Get as much help as necessary from the outside. Search for further solutions and even more radical ideas.
  • Work together across departmental and company boundaries.
  • Develop first MVPs and build trust with partners and customers.

How “Lean Start-up” (step 4) supports the efficient development of your offering?

  • Use the Lean start-up approach to develop your offer with little capital.
  • Structure the solution step by step. Due to the fast iterations the product and the business model are steadily improved and validated.
  • Clarify the biggest uncertainties with experiments first.

Why “business design and agile product and customer development” (step 5) are central for the product / market fit?

  • In the following, the focus shifts from problem solving and finding the solution (problem / solution-fit) to the elaboration of the right business model by means of business design (product / market fit).
  • The product and the business model are developed in an agile way. Methods such as SCRUM are helpful. Think in variants in the development of the business models. Consider service aspects (servitization) or concepts like Circular Economy (or Cradle to Cradle).

What skills are required for Step 6 “Scale”?

  • Growth is only envisaged in the last step is and the business is scaled.
  • The product is introduced into the market.
  • Prepare the organization for growth and scaling.
  • Establish scalable processes, structures and platforms.
  • Check the mind-set & skills in your organization and do not just follow a blueprint.
  • Take the whole organization a step forward and take new ways.

The “Problem to Growth & Scale Framework” is one of many methods and tools from the new Design Thinking Playbook. The Playbook (Lewrick, Link, Leifer) is now available in good bookstores and is a must-read for all entrepreneurs and innovators. For more information see the official website of Design Thinking Playbook.

Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link and Larry Leifer are always looking for the next big market opportunity. They live Design Thinking in growth areas like digital transformation, and apply agile methods in product, service and business development. They practice the Design Thinking mind-set in the telecommunication industry, at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and at the heart of Silicon Valley at Stanford University. With their help various international companies have developed and commercialized radical innovations.


Start-ups use design thinking at an early stage, but how does the journey goes on? About Michael Lewrick

Michael Lewrick holds an MBA and PhD. He did his undergraduate studies New York, Munich and Nice with an emphasis on Business Administration, IT and organizational development. His research interests centres on the management issues related to the design, development and commercialisation of technological and business model innovation. A number of publications have been produced in this area. Currently, he holds a position as Chief Innovation Officer at Swisscom in Zürich. He is a frequent visiting scholar at Stanford University.

Guest Blog

Guest Blog

Guest Blogs are written by the community of Impact Hub Vienna. This includes members, friends and people from other Impact Hub's around the globe. If you want to contribute something please contact us at vienna.comms@impacthub.net