This playbook documents what we did and what came out of the program. It’s meant to be instructional so that you can take these concepts, try it out in your own organization, and improve on them. 

You’ll notice that we use audience, customer, user, reader, listener, or viewer interchangeably. This is deliberate. For example, audience assumes a passive end-point for content. User assumes an active participant in a product (such as a website, newsletter, or an app) that you’ve created. Customer assumes a person or an organization that is actively paying for something that you’ve created. Ultimately, we want to help you focus on the only thing that matters: creating something that is useful and ultimately valuable for someone by giving them what they want.

who this is for

This playbook is for media professionals, editors, newsroom managers, program managers, and product managers — anyone in a media function trying to find new ways to solve problems from audience engagement to monetization. We’re excited to see where you take it.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain

our program

At a time when information and content competes with everything else on your phone, the future of media requires an audience-centric approach. If you don’t know what your user wants, how would you know what to give them?

Globally, design thinking is being used to reshape companies by helping them understand their customers better. We don’t mean design in the visual sense; to us, design thinking is an approach that puts your user/customer/audience first — and creates an experience that delivers information that is most relevant to them, in a format that is most accessible to them. 


Our focus is on working collaboratively and experimenting to develop new products, business models and revenue streams based on a design-centric approach. For this program, we wanted to address several specific challenges in media:



These challenging concepts required a robust understanding of an organization’s design and digital maturity. Typically, the more embedded design thinking practices are within an organization — and the earlier they’re implemented at the strategic and planning stages — the more likely they are to innovate. We were also interested to find out if the partner was rooted in a digital-first mindset.

To understand whether an organization was ready, we assessed an organization's capacity on these parameters:

This assessment, done online by the partners, allowed us to identify correlations between design and digital maturity. For example, we saw that design practices (or at least the notion of) were limited to UX/UI on websites and apps. We also noted a lack of user research in product and editorial teams which were often working in silos. We customised the program accordingly to address the specific maturity levels of partners.

In the first phase of the GNI Design Accelerator program, our goal was not only to train each media partner in design thinking and build new skills for innovation, but also to develop new solutions for their business. In the second phase, we worked with each partner to develop a digital solution that enhanced the organization’s product mindset and accelerated the launch of an audience-centric media product.

Welcome to the GNI DA

Why Design Thinking

Multilingual Playbook (8 MB PDF)