Incorporating design thinking concept into your business process can keep you a step ahead of your competitors. By enabling you to develop viable & user-centric solutions, design thinking helps achieving quicker time-to-market, better customer retention, remarkable cost savings, and a desirable ROI. Looking at the growing benefits of the principle, a design thinking workshop for your team is certainly a proposition to ponder upon.
It’s an incredibly interesting way to bring together a diverse group of people from different departments and provide them a rare opportunity to get hands-on with a problem solving experience. With a well-oriented workshop you can foster innovation & team work, polish problem solving abilities and improve your competitive advantage.
How to run an effective design thinking workshop
Wondering how to go about facilitating a design thinking workshop? Let’s get the real picture by analyzing the key steps as enlisted below:
Step 1 - Planning and preparation
Before you actually get down to design thinking workshop there are some prerequisites that you must look into, these include:
- Establishing the workshop objective. You must define clearly the goal of the workshop. It could be generating new ideas or improving on an existing design product.
- Finding a suitable location wherein the members can be comfortably accommodated. If it’s online, decide on the meeting and presentation tools beforehand.
- Planning the agenda- Decide how and when different activities will take place. It should largely be activity-based event. Time should be allotted equally for discussion and reflection at the end.
- Ensure all the essential materials required during the workshop like props, whiteboards, markers, sticky notes etc are in place.
Once all set, focus on executing it the right way. Let’s get into the second phase of the conducting the design workshop.
Step 2 - Design Thinking Workshop - Introduction
Welcome all the participants to the workshop and apprise them on what to expect during the workshop. After a brief self-introduction, proceed to share the following information:
- The main objective of the workshop
- Problem that is to be addressed
- A schedule of the workshop activities
Step 3 - Start off with an exciting team building activity
The best way to kick off the meeting is engaging members in a team building activity. This will help loosen up the participants and make them feel comfortable before the real work begins.
Step 4 - Introduce the design thinking concept
By now, you’ve set the scene and put everybody at ease. It’s the right time to make an impactful presentation covering the fundamentals of design thinking, including:
- What is design thinking
- Five phases of design thinking (Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test)
- Benefits of design thinking (share some interesting stats)
- A real-world design thinking case study
Step 5 - Empathizing with the end user
Understanding the user’s needs and preferences is the first step towards generating innovative ideas. In this stage you will encourage the workshop participants to put themselves in the place of the users and gain insights of their experiences, motivations, needs and challenges. You can conduct role-playing games, create empathy maps, use photo and video user-based studies etc to understand the nuances of empathy for end users. Once done with the activities, give the participants a chance to share about their learning and ask questions, if any.
Step 6 - Defining the problem statement
Here you’ll get more specific with a problem that needs serious attention. Remember, articulating design problem that is human-centered and user-focused provides a clear-cut objective to work towards. Frame a meaningful, actionable problem statement that will guide the design team towards a feasible solution. Allow the participants turn the user’s needs into a “how can we” question. For instance it could be something like “How we can offer a safe, easy online purchasing experience?
Tips to remember
- A good problem statement leaves room for innovation and creative freedom. Hence, keep it broad enough to invite a range of different ideas and avoid any references to specific solution.
- Avoid addressing too many user needs in one problem statement; prioritize and frame your problem accordingly.
Step 7 - Finding better ideas and potential solutions
The next step is brainstorming and open discussions, leading to potential solutions. Let the participants share their insights and views with open minds. Give enough space to participants so they can challenge the commonly held beliefs and explore newer and broadest range of possibilities. You can employ different ideation techniques like brainstorming, mind mapping, story boarding, body storming (role-playing) etc
Shape it like a team building endeavor where team members consider other's ideas and build on them, find ways to link concepts, recognize patterns and flip apparently impossible notions over to reveal new insights.
Step 8 - Prototyping & Testing
This is technically the final step in the design thinking process where you offer the participants the opportunity to test the practicability of the current design and to potentially investigate how a user would actually respond to the change. Ask the participants to create low fidelity prototypes of their solution. Allow them to create screens for each step of the user journey and then ask them to add functionality to their screens in the form of buttons. Towards the end collect the feedback from the rest of the team. Make sure to give your team some time to compare their prototypes and let them vote for the best prototype.
Step 9 –Wrapping up the design thinking workshop
Conclude your Design Thinking workshop with a quick debrief. Dedicate some time for reflection and discussion. Ask your Design Thinkers what they felt about the workshop and what were their findings? Their feedback is essential to improve your design thinking workshop skills.
If you are new to the world of design thinking, know that practice is the way to mastering the art. However, a user-centered approach and quality feedback can go a long way in enhancing the efficacy of your design thinking workshop.