Vestfold & Telemark, Norway – Framework for Economic Development Through Design Thinking

A Design Thinking driven approach for better regional collaboration in economic development 


The competition for investments, talent, visitors and public resources is no doubt intensifying between places – and the winners have been the capitals and other urban centres. This is the backdrop against which the Norwegian region Vestfold & Telemark decided to launch their Regional Development project “Working smarter together”. The process focuses on innovating how different regional stakeholders can out-smart the competition with better collaboration in the future – and secure growth and opportunities for both its current and future residents and companies.


The challenge

Smart collaboration, innovation, commitment and creativity are the desired key words in the work to strengthen the attractiveness of Vestfold & Telemark when it comes to green transition, development and growth and to attract investment, tourists and talent. The client asked us to develop a methodology to use in betterment of collaboration between the municipality and the wider range of different actors in the ecosystem.

The solution

Adapting Design Thinking into the core of the collaboration between different stakeholders. The aim is for actors in the region to be able to use a baseline framework for different processes with a concrete toolbox to develop prototypes for future development work where several municipalities or actors work together. All of this is part of the same goal: To work smarter together.

The result  

“Work smarter together” offers a common language for development work and a solid set of methods to rely on, a toolbox.

This framework for economic development through a Design Thinking approach has its core in investigating what the underlying problems are, explore different solutions and continuously test proposed solutions on target groups or the end user. Thus, both the problem and the solution change when new insights are gained. We call the process we have developed for Working Smarter Together the Triple Diamond, because it functions as a framework with three subsequent phases:

  1. Understand: an exploratory start to ensure a correct understanding of the user’s needs or challenge.
  2. Create: With an understanding of the actual need or challenge, we can “brainstorm” and find ways to solve the challenge.
  3. Deliver: With one or more proposed solutions, we have developed prototypes to be tested, improved and finally launched


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