A 10 Step Guide to Design Thinking Your Core Values

Gwenna Kadima
13 min readJan 11, 2021

Leverage design thinking fundamentals to uncover your core values and set purpose-driven, actionable goals.

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Design Thinking.

A mindset, a dogma, a way of living. Whatever you call it, the consultants (my folks), creators, and innovators of the world swear by it to solve complex, multi-dimensional problems. Despite our efforts to frame it as an elusive, abstract elixir to all of your CEO’s problems, design thinking is not complicated; however, it takes practice to effectively and intuitively apply its principles.

In my day-to-day, I often use design thinking to jolt creativity into helping clients identify, describe, and solve big organizational problems. Once we have our potential solutions, we iteratively vet them (defined below) to ensure we’re considering the impact these solutions will have on various client stakeholder groups. These groups usually the client’s customers, employees, or shareholders.

I recognize this use case is likely far removed from your day-to-day.

Thankfully, design thinking can be employed outside of the boardroom, by individuals, for some seriously inspirational results.

I’m going to show you how to use basic design thinking principles to define your personal core values.

You’ll finish this exercise with a unique set of 3–7 core values and hands-on experience applying basic design thinking principles and tools. I completed this exercise in December 2020 to uncover my core values. Photos of my personal process are included below to help guide you.

The final, optional step of this guide will explain how to take your core values a step further and use them to define new goals and validate pre-existing goals.

Why is this step optional?

Because core values are extremely useful beyond their applicability to goal setting. Ultimately, a value-driven life has many benefits such as reduced stress, a stronger sense of self, and improved decision making during major life milestones.¹

Whether you discover them in this exercise or you knew them in advance, share your list of core values as a response to this article. I’d love to see them!



Gwenna Kadima

BIPOC Career Activator & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant