It’s a design thinking workshop when…

I’ve been very fortunate this year to have experienced several different “design thinking” workshops, variously sponsored by Stanford d.school, Kaiser Innovation, Luma Institute, and Lime Design. Looking back, it’s fun to identify some of the trademark characteristics, which suggest it truly is a “design thinking” workshop…

  • Sticky notes and sharpies galore! With LOTS of different colors…plastered everywhere: walls, whiteboards, even on yourself!
  • Lots and lots of sketching by everyone (not just designers) on the teams. Lots of different styles, from stick-man to “artistic” renderings.
  • Rough, quick and dirty prototyping is FUN! Roll-up your sleeves and jump right into it. Having many bins of stuff: pipe cleaners, colored paper, styrofoam, play-doh, etc. Playing with materials sparks creativity like you wouldn’t believe!
  • Improv activities to wake everyone up! There’s always something fun and quick to get the adrenaline flowing, especially after lunch. Rochambeau (paper/rock/scissors) is a particular fave.
  • Optimistic and speedy approaches. Keeping a positive spirit, amid the craziness, and keep moving forward. A strong “bias to action”, rather than snoozy tedious slideshows and spreadsheets. Just try it!
  • Thrown into situations: The problem is not fully presented or vetted beforehand; instead, you’re expected to dive in and react with awareness, team rapport, etc.
  • Adapt on the fly! As a natural outcome of changing design problems and shifting teams throughout the workshop, you gotta be nimble and flexible. Keeping an open mind is vital to enjoy the workshop learning…
  • Folks are exhausted at the end, but super charged up! At every single workshop I participated in, everyone was energized and ready to seize the bull of innovation by the horns. And participants always surprised themselves with how creative they can be. Always a fun sight to behold. Just gotta bring that spirit back to the office…

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