Whole View Model

Currently, the Whole View model has three parts: purpose, frameworks, and methods. Just like designers use quick visual sketches as a way to think about a product, the team can use the Whole View to sketch operations, value creation, and other factors that need to fit each other for a project to ascertain the best path towards purposeful, lasting change.

The structure facilitates information flow from framework to framework, supporting a deeper investigation of each individual framework and wider exploration of the relationships between them.Once teams have an initial idea of the main purpose for making a change, they begin by selecting any of the frameworks, roughly sketching answers to its related questions, and then identifying key methods that can help them create relevant content.

Very few initiatives start off able to answer all of the questions posed by the seven frameworks. But asking them in early planning phases and throughout complex projects can help teams develop a wider understanding of the context and reveal more holistic alternative futures.

Conceptual Background

Frameworks and methods

Conceptual Background

The Whole View evolved out of efforts to identify stronger economic drivers for human-centered design than merely uncovering unmet needs, and hopes that a client would pay for whatever novel idea emerged to satisfy them. Over time, it became clear that the solution was not to construct a convincing argument for one outcome or another, but rather to create a way for various individuals and organizations to come up with their own arguments within a holistic, coherent structure.

Unlike other design models that have a prescribed starting point and propose a series of steps to guide the design process toward a solution, the Whole View uses seven frameworks and related methods that helps teams focus on content when framing a project, defining its purpose, and making progress towards achieving its goals.

Whether in practice or as research, adopting the Whole View makes it easier for multidisciplinary teams to see and resolve their differences sooner because it allows people from many functions to “sketch” the whole project or organization together.

Its structure is useful for answering fundamental questions that have guided the organization with decisions over the years. Some of these questions were core issues in crafts long before industrialization.

Today, they all became central to the thinking of entrepreneurs who start new ventures, and leaders within large organizations who seek meaningful, impactful change. They may seem simple but are often forgotten in the quest to create new offerings based on fragmented approaches.

Having a set of general questions that can be used for any type of project and a structure for answering them is helpful for teams to break their domain-specific approaches to problem framing and solution-finding.

Core Frameworks

External Fitness


User Terrains
User Terrain defines people in the context of their aspirations and related problems.
POEMS reminds we need to think of offerings as systems.
Value Web
Value Web shows the exchange of various types of value among agents involved.
Organization Territory
Organization Territories are the areas an organization decides to enter in response to user terrains.


Internal Fitness


Levels of Innovation
Levels of Innovation helps clarify the degree of change given the ambition and certainty about its success.
Strategy Pyramid
The Strategy Pyramid helps an organization align it purpose, operations, offerings.
Competency Flow
Competency flow shows the dependency between the competencies needed to achieve the main purpose.

Core Methods


Work with people involved in the context to both frame the problem and create solutions. Engaging with others experiencing the problems enables close consideration of the dynamics, degrees of control, and interests of various agents that can support or hinder progress.

Prototyping Behavior

Use of artifacts to elicit visible people’s activities and gather data around their new experiences. Watching people use prototypes, even in rough form, can reveal surprising ways of creating value that would not be considered otherwise.

Prototyping Appearance

Create artifacts at different scales to test and validate the intended appearance, proportion, size, materiality, colors, forms, messages among other things that give shape to new offerings.

Field Observation

Observe people’s activities in public places or environments trying to intervene as little as possible. Capturing ‘real world’ data about people, the diverse situations they are embedded in, and their interactions with the surroundings can help researchers learn about behaviors that are not well understood.

Open Interviews

Ask subjects open-ended questions to learn about their experiences, expertise, and ideas that directly relate or are marginal to the issues at hand. Openly capturing other’s perspectives can reveal new ways of understanding reality that objective surveys and interviews don’t provide.

Participant Observation

Engage in the daily-life activities with representatives of the population being studied. Immersions in the context of change expand perceptions about both the problems and the alternatives moving forward.


Make small scale experiments of the whole system to explore answers to questions the team did not know to ask. Prototyping complex interventions before implementing them can help teams anticipate unintended consequences.

Remote Observation

Observe and remotely record how people use and interact with others, objects, environments, messages, and services that relate to the project at hand. This can be done through various techniques, including self-documentaries, add remote cameras in strategic places, among others.

Prototyping Concepts

Create rough low fidelity, low-resolution physical, and visual models to explore unusual ideas. Exploring atypical concepts using words alone frequently leads to misunderstanding.


Remove common characteristics from ideas and observed realities and reduce them to a set of general principles useful for creating meaning. Identifying the fundamental nature of a concept or a problem expands the range of concepts, as well as opportunities for intervening and creating alternatives.

Silo Bridging

Identify the interdependency between key competencies individuals and organizations have to effectively bring new offerings to reality. Leveraging dispersed expertise in early stages, including production, legal, distribution, technology, accelerates learning, and reduces operational barriers.

Pattern Finding

Map diverse elements of the problem and explore how they relate to each other. Discovering seemingly unrelated relationships can lead to new patterns that were not evident through existing silos and conventional structures.