How to use this toolkit

Welcome to the Project Design Toolkit!

Are you designing a new project, or want to identify new solutions? Do you want tools to enable structed brainstorm and idea selection? Do you want new and easy to use tools to understand your context and its stakeholder better? We got you!  

For humanitarian interventions to stay relevant and impactful, it is imperative to stay curious and critical of what we do and how we do it. This Project Design Toolkit gives you and your team easy access to hand-picked tools and templates – all based on tried and tested innovation methods and adapted to the humanitarian sector.

This toolkit will help you to...

•    Anticipate the future
•    Understand and engage ecosystems
•    Avoid bias and assess problems in new ways
•    Brainstorm, be creative, and co-create
•    Test and validate new ideas and concepts fast
•    Maximise your impact

… together with the people that we work with and for!


How does it work?

What is meant by ‘project’?

When this toolkit refers to “project design”, “project” is to be understood in its widest sense: designing a new strategy is a project, designing a new type of service is a project, designing a whole new programme is considered a project. 

Selecting tools

The Phases selection box on the front page filters the tools according to what you want to do.

The toolkit is particularly relevant in the early phases of a project cycle when you make your initial assessments and start the design and planning of the project. But many of the tools are also highly useful throughout a project cycle to validate and adjust project design.

You can further filter the tools by choosing the time you have available for conducting an exercise and whether the exercise is appropriate for online or face-to-face use. 

Top menu bar

To get you started and inspired, the top menu bar gives you a brief introduction to innovation and its definitions and principles in the Danish Red Cross. 

Under the peer-to-peer page you will examples of how your colleagues have used these tools – you can also add your own experiences and tips to help and inspire your colleagues. 
If you are still hungry for more learning and resources, the inspiration page provides some inspiration from other colleagues in the sector who are striving for new ways of working. If you know of other inspirational resources, share them with us through  

I’m missing a tool

This toolkit is a new way of presenting tools and is a constantly evolving resource. Tools will be added and adjusted according to your needs and demands. Tools may also be removed should they prove insufficient in providing the relevant support.

We would love your help to curate the tools to make this toolkit as helpful as possible, so please do share any feedback – the good and the bad – you may have with us through  

Toolkit phases


Mobilisation is important in all phases of a typical project cycle. 

It is all about engaging the right stakeholders for the right things at the right time. This gives your project the best possible content and conditions. Stakeholders could be the communities that we work with and for, humanitarian, public, and private partners, internally in the organisation, donors, researchers etc.

In the mobilisation phase we have selected tools to help map, analyse, identify, and interact with the relevant stakeholders for your project in the best way possible.


Exploration mostly falls under the initial assessment phase, with some overlap into the very beginning of the design and planning phase of the typical project cycle.

Exploration is about identifying the most relevant problem or opportunity to address now or in the future. Key to any successful project is understanding the root causes and contributing factors of a given problem, as well as identifying the stakeholders involved. The more time spent on this phase, the less likely it is that you end up with an inappropriate or ineffective solution and response.

In the exploration phase you will find tools that can help identify and anticipate future trends and the most pressing needs, as well as to investigate and analyse the problem you want to focus on.


Design usually comes into play during the planning phase in a typical project cycle, for example, as part of developing your theory of change or logframe in the inception phase.

Design is about identifying and developing the best possible solution for the problem you are trying to address – working with your team and relevant stakeholders. 

In the design phase you will find tools that can support brainstorming, idea and concept development, validating and prioritising ideas, understanding target groups, and creating value propositions.


You will typically do your testing during as part of the design and planning phase in a typical project cycle, for example, as part of the inception phase.

Testing does not have to be a big and scary thing – it can simply be a set of quick and small-scale tests in the implementation context, working with relevant stakeholders to assess if a solution appropriately addresses the problem identified and whether a pilot can be justified. Testing will strengthen risk management, the quality of resources spent, and, ultimately, accountability.

In the test phase you will find tools tha will help you assess proposed solutions and assumptions, develop prototypes, make testing plans to evaluate your solution.


Feasibility assessments are usually carried out during the planning phase in a typical project cycle, for example, in the inception phase.

Feasibility assessment is the realistic assessment of internal and external factors that can affect the success and sustainability factors of implementing a solution. For example, the assessment of appropriate human and financial resources needed to sustain the solution, continued buy-in from relevant stakeholders, and other factors in the implementation contexts that can affect sustainable implementation.

In the feasibility phase you will find tools that can help assess operational capacity and assess tested assumptions. 


Piloting falls under the implementation and monitoring phase in a typical programme cycle.

You pilot the solution when it is sufficiently validated to be implemented in a live operational context. This means that the solution has been live tested with relevant stakeholders, potential risks of doing harm have been minimised, and the solution has been evaluated as feasible and sustainable to implement.

In the piloting phase you will find tools that can help you further develop the theory of change and conduct post-pilot evaluations.


Everything up to here works, and you are ready to scale your solution – typically during the implementation and monitoring phase in a typical project cycle.

Scaling is scaling the impact of a proven impactful solution. There are different types of scaling: ‘Scaling out’ means impacting greater numbers; ‘scaling deep’ means rooting the impact in the context, and ‘scaling up’ refers to influencing policies and laws.

In the scaling phase you will find tools that can support you in assessing potential routes to scale and developing a scaling strategy and vision.

How were the tools chosen?

At the core of good design is empathetic and thorough understanding of needs and challenges as the base to drive creative problem-solving and ultimately delivering impactful solutions.

The tools in this toolkit are chosen to enable pricely that and are based on the following design-thinking principles:

  • Emphasising with the relevant stakeholders to understand their needs, context, and motivations.
  • Defining the most relevant problem or opportunity to address.
  • Ideating creatively and with an open mind to find the best solution to the problem or opportunity we want to address.
  • Testing with relevant stakeholders to understand the most relevant and feasible solution.

Based on these principles, tools come from fields such as innovation, anthropology, development- and humanitarian sector.

Tools in this toolkit have been adapted and aim to reflect protection, gender and inclusion, conflict sensitivity and community engagement, and accountability considerations as relevant to the particular tool.

Glossary of key terms


  • Design: Identify and develop the best solution for the problem or opportunity identified – working with your team and relevant stakeholders.

  • Enabling factor: Internal and external factors that enable the viability of a solution. For example, sufficient supportive strategies, buy-in from necessary stakeholders, resources, skills, etc.

  • Exploration: Identify the most relevant problem or opportunity to address – now or in the future.

  • Feasibility: The realistic assessment of internal and external factors that can affect the successful and sustainable implementation of a validated solution.

  • Futures and Foresight: Explorative tools, techniques and approaches to anticipate and prepare for the future.

  • Innovation: Innovation is the process of introducing new ideas, methods, products, or services that bring positive change and value to individuals, organisations, or society.

  • Innovation management: The discipline of effectively and efficiently strategizing, planning, and managing innovation initiatives to achieve the greatest possible impact with the resources spent.

  • Invention: Something new to the world.

  • Iteration: A methodology based on the cyclic process of prototyping, testing, and analysing to refine a solution.

  • Minimum viable product (MVP): The simplest version of a solution (and least expensive) that contains all the core components necessary to be piloted effectively.

  • Persona: A holistic fictional, yet representative, archetype of a given stakeholder group used to personify needs and desires to help gain empathy and a better understanding of the group to, ultimately, enable better project design.

  • Pilot: Testing of a new but validated concept or solution before full-scale implementation to demonstrate feasibility, effectiveness, and verify impact potential.
  • Portfolio: The collected sum of projects. The portfolio can visualise how individual projects collectively address an overall challenge(s) to realise a country strategy.

  • Prototype: Demonstrates the functionality and relevance of a concept or solution in a tangible form to gain deeper understanding of design and relevance, as well as to mitigate risks and spend resources most efficiently.

  • Proof-of-concept: Evidence, typically derived from a pilot project, which demonstrates that a new solution is practically feasible and verifies impact potential.

  • Scaling: Multiplying the impact of a proven impactful solution.

  • Test: A set of quick and small-scale tests in the implementation context, with relevant stakeholders, to validate solution design and assess if a solution appropriately addresses the problem or opportunity identified and whether a pilot can be justified.