- Design thinking is the what and the why: it offers a toolbox from which you can choose methods, techniques and exercises to execute your project
- Agile is the how: it tells you something about the process that is followed
Of course this drastically oversimplifies things, as design thinking is also a process in itself (e.g. Discover, Define, Design, Deliver are well known steps in the process of creating user-centered experiences), yet it’s important to remember that design thinking can be applied in an agile (or lean) way:
We work in 2-week sprints and have adopted agile – sprints, standups, backlog, retrospectives – during which we are going to create personas, customer journeys and service blueprints.
See the nuance in this sentence? As such, design thinking can be applied to many other frameworks and is not entitled to any specific process:
So just remember: when people talk about design thinking, they talk about the what and the why (“we’re going to use design thinking to tackle problem X’), when they talk about agile they talk about the how (‘in 2-week sprints’, by using scrum, a kanban board, etc.)