Prototyping Insights + The Prototyping Canvas with Carlye Lauff — DT101 E46

Carlye Lauff is an independent contractor specializing in innovation strategy and design research. We’ll talk about her path into design and how she obtained her Ph.D. in Design Theory and Methodology, and then hear about her global work with organization innovation using human-centered design. Carlye talks about prototyping barriers, how to overcome these barriers, and her tool, Prototyping Canvas, with Dawan Stanford, your podcast host.

Show Summary

Carlye was exposed to the power of human-centered design thinking with her coursework during her undergrad at Penn State University. One project brought her to Kenya, where she was on a team initiating a telemed health initiative. Through this project, she saw the power of applying design thinking to a real-world problem. As a result, she pursued her Master’s and Ph.D. around design thinking — including founding the Design for America studio at Colorado University Boulder campus — with an emphasis on prototyping, and helping companies and organizations find ways to prototype more effectively. She has continued to work on design thinking-based projects around the world.

She is currently consulting in the U.S. in the field of innovation strategy, partnering with organizations and training their teams in the use of design thinking and human-centered design. She also works with teams to co-create solutions to actual projects and challenges in their organizations, including leading a project with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help children enhance their social-emotional learning.

Learn how Carlye teaches and trains professionals to make human-centric products, the challenges organizations and people have when prototyping, how to use analogies and case study examples, and how Carlye creates lasting organizational change long after her work with the company is done.

Listen in to learn:

  • How Carlye co-created an educational children’s toy at Robert Wood Johnson to help preschoolers identify their emotions
  • Her experience with prototyping and how she overcame obstacles with prototyping
  • The two strategies Carlye finds helpful when explaining prototyping
  • Methods you can use for low-fidelity early prototyping
  • How Carlye worked with the International Design Center in Singapore, focused on helping companies create lasting organizational change
  • Two research-validated design tools Carlye collaborated on
  • Carlye’s recipe for how to create great design
  • Why she takes failure out of her language and replaces it with iterating and evolving

Our Guest’s Bio

Carlye is an innovation strategist, design researcher, and enthusiastic instructor who blends human-centered design practice with systems thinking approaches. She has helped more than 25 global organizations re-think their design processes and strategies, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to government agencies to universities.

Carlye is an independent consultant that empowers people and organizations to innovate using human-centered design methods and strategies. During 2018-2019, Carlye served as a Design Innovation Fellow at the SUTD-MIT International Design Centre (IDC) in Singapore, where she trained companies in design innovation strategies, led an in-depth consulting project for the Land Transport Authority, and researched design methods like the Prototyping Canvas. Carlye received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Carlye’s research is within the field of Design Theory and Methodology, and she develops tools and methods to support designers and engineers. Carlye also founded the Design for America studio at CU Boulder in 2015 as a way to give students experiences working on interdisciplinary teams applying human-centered design to solve real problems in the community.

Show Highlights

[02:05] Carlye’s origin story and how she came into design as a career.
[04:08] Her current work in the field of innovation strategy.
[05:23] Her experience with Robert Wood Johnson co-creating a children’s learning project.
[07:44] The challenges of prototyping.
[10:10] Two strategies she uses to explain prototyping: analogies and case studies.
[12:48] Examples and applications Carlye uses when explaining prototyping.
[14:40] Hands-on activities Carlye uses to help people get a feel for prototyping: games, storyboarding, and roleplaying.
[19:10] Her work in Singapore with the SUTD-MIT International Design Center and its Design Innovation Team.
[21:05] Carlye checks in with the leadership of organizations to find out how they will support and continue her work when she is finished with her workshop or consulting.
[22:18] Carlye talks more about the innovation hubs she worked with in Australia and Singapore.
[25:50] Her excitement about design methods, and two research-validated design tools she has collaborated on.
[26:26] The Prototyping Canvas.
[28:20] The Design Innovation with Additive Manufacturing (DIwAM) methodology.
[29:21] Carlye’s recipe for designing well – Wizard of Oz prototyping + Think Aloud testing + Affinity Clustering.
[32:24] The benefits of Beginner’s Mindset.
[36:14] Learning, growing, and iterating is the backbone of productivity in work.
[39:30] The importance of Growth Mindset and space for reflection.
[39:45] Learning is enhanced when you give learning the time and space to be reflective.
[40:35] Design resources and references Carlye has used.
[45:25:] Where to learn more about Carlye and her work.


Design Thinking 101
Fluid Hive Design Innovation
Carlye Lauff on the Web
Contact Carlye Lauff
Carlye Lauff on LinkedIn
Carlye Lauff on Medium
You Want to Learn Prototyping, First Bake a Cake by Carlye Lauff
Prototyping Canvas: Design Tool for Planning Purposeful Prototypes by Carlye Lauff, Kristin Lee Wood, and Jessica Menold
Design Innovation with Additive Manufacturing: A Methodology by K. Blake Perez, Carlye A. Lauff, Bradley A. Camburn, and Kristin L. Wood
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Desklight Learning
Mockups: a fast-paced game for people who build to think
Design Innovation
Luma Institute and Luma Workplace
A Taxonomy of Innovation: 36 human-centered design methods
IDEO’s Design Kit

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Public Sector Design + Outcome Chains + Prototyping for Impact with Boris Divjak — DT101 E26

The Evolution of Teaching and Learning Design with Bruce Hanington — DT101 E39

Tell me how the show helps you.

Photo of Dawan Stanford

Your ideas support and develop the show. Tell the world how the Design Thinking 101 Podcast has helped you think and solve like a designer. Then, tell me how I might make it even more helpful.

Cheers ~ Dawan

Fluid Hive's Designing Faciltiation Course

Are you ready to design outstanding events that will engage participants and get the outcomes you need? Fluid Hive's Designing Facilitation Course is a step-by-step design thinking-fueled system for creating and leading events, workshops and meetings that solve problems, save money, and protect your reputation.

Designing Facilitation gives you 32 lessons that walk you through answering our Event Design questions, and 28 Event Design Practice Tools that help you immediately apply your learning. Dawan also offers examples and insight from his decades of experience leading events for thousands of people everywhere from the White House to packed ballrooms, cozy workshop rooms, and online spaces with remote participants.

Design Thinking 101 Courses — Framing

In this self-paced, online course, Framing: Creating Better Solutions by Finding More Valuable Problems to Solve, you will learn to create more effective solutions by understanding the problem you are trying to solve. This is the first course in Fluid Hive's Design Thinking 101 Courses Series.

Creating effective solutions begins with understanding the problem we are trying to solve. Is this problem worth solving? Where should we look to understand our problem? What’s happening inside this problem? How do we define the problem? How do we adjust problem framing as we go? During the course, you will learn to answer these questions and apply them to your work.

Resources — Thinking and Solving Like a Designer


Ask Like a Designer — Monthly articles with design ideas, methods, frameworks, templates, and a question-fueled approach to design-driven innovation. Discover new ways to think and solve like a designer.

Sample pages from inside Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield


Download Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield: a guide to avoiding innovation traps by asking 9 of Fluid Hive's Design Thinking Questions.

Your Ask Like a Designer Studio

Your Ask Like a Designer Studio connects you with people interesed in thinking and solving like a designer.

Enjoy invitations to free, live Studio events. Receive articles, Design Thinking 101 podcast updates, tips, tools, templates, workshop information, and more to help you create and perform!

Innovation Smart Start Webinar

Your next project could be easier, faster and more effective if you play smart at the start. In this webinar Dr. Dawan Stanford will teach you ways to ask like a designer so your projects succeed more often and your revenue grows.