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Design and Design Thinking has been business and management for some time, with influential thinkers like Roger Martin at Harvard, and Tim Brown of IDEO promoting the approach as a way to address complex problems in the public and the private sector (Brown and Martin 2015). Part of the interest relates to the way design tools have been used in the digital economy to create artefacts and systems, the success of these things leading to the sense that the design is an approach to problem solving that can be applied in a number of contexts. This paper is an attempt to make sense of design based approaches as a research tool. It is based on my own interest in, and experience of, using these approaches in work with Third Sector organisations as they explore and develop their engagement with the digital world. Influenced by Dorst and Cross (2001) my own work places the focus on the organisation, and on how values are articulated, explored, contested and narrated through design, production and use of digital media. Even a simplistic account of design practice recognises it as a creative inquiry. However, in order to develop a more sophisticated understanding of design practice as research practice there is a need to look at the mode of inquiries used within design. In particular, what kinds of questions can design based approaches address. The paper will report on the insights that a design approach to action research can bring by focussing on Voluntary Organisations and value.