There are many ways to go about the design process but I have two essential tools that I use for every project. I believe the first and foremost important part of any challenge is identifying an unmet need. This requires knowing all of your key stakeholders and target audience, their emotional drivers and their current needs. At Diagram, I created a poster with a modified decision tree for identifying an unmet need.
The other important tool is gleaning disruptive insights. Designers have a knack for creating before experimenting and it starts by collecting data and generating thought-provoking questions and ideas. Disruptive insights leave the audience curious and wanting to know more about a problem or situation. Below is a toolkit I designed at a Disruptive Insights workshop led by Megan Fath.