As part of my Fellowship in the SAP Customer Experience Labs team, I had the chance to host a 1-day Design Thinking (DT) workshop in our Munich office. To summarize it in one sentence: DT is a user-centric method for solving complex problems and creating new ideas.
Where do you start, when you have never hosted a DT workshop before? I co-coached two other DT workshops in the past, but all the planning was done by the lead coach and I just had to execute commands. So, where do you start, when you are now in the shoes of the lead coach?
First thing I did, was to go through all the material that was made available to me. I looked into the agendas of past DT workshops and started creating my own. As you might know, timing is everything in DT and it’s usually hard to stick to the agenda because creative minds don’t stick to rules. So, having enough buffer time and breaks was crucial, but also hard to figure out the right amount.
After I had finalized the agenda, the timing, the date and the space, I could finally make it public in the Munich office, that I am hosting a 1-day DT workshop and opened the registration. Now it was time to wait. While waiting for participants, I also organized two co-coaches, so that we could split the group of 18 participants in teams of six – making sure that each team is as diverse as possible regarding job roles.
The Day of the Workshop
An hour before the workshop began, we – the coaches – met and prepared the room. Lots of drawing and “whiteboarding” was included in the first hour. And slowly, more and more participants showed up. And slowly, my heart rate increased more and more. Was there a correlation between number of participants showing up and my heart rate? I can’t tell for sure, but I would definitely bet on it.
So once, when everybody was there, we kicked of the workshop with an introduction round. Seeing the faces to the names and hearing fun-facts about the participants made me realize that I wasn’t in danger, so there was no need for an increased heart rate, which calmed me down – a bit. :D
After an introduction into Design Thinking, it was finally time to get the hands (and minds) of the participants dirty. As the workshop was just meant to explain the concept of Design Thinking, we squeezed the first two of three DT phases into one day.
In the Discovery phase, the scope of the workshop was presented to the participants. I wanted to make sure, that everyone could relate to the topic. That’s why I choose the following design challenge: “How might we design experiences and expressions of gratitude in our workplace?”. Me, personally, I think, that it is crucial to show and receive gratitude in our workplace. And I wanted to see, how others think about that topic.
Afterwards, the teams were able to interview two colleagues each – most of the interviewees came from different teams. For the interviews, the participants had to create their own interview guideline and make sure to ask all needed questions within the 10 minutes time frame per interview. Based on the 360° research, the participants then had to build their persona and the persona’s point-of-view (i.e. one sentence that creates an image in your mind. And based on an understanding of a user group and insights into a specific need, it narrows down the problem space and focuses on a specific problem.). The persona is needed to get the user-/human-centric approach of DT.
The second phase, the Design phase, starts with ideation. I decided to try out the following ideation techniques: Silent Brainstorming, (Silent) Reverse Brainstorming, and Flip Reverse Brainstorming / crazy ideas including Brainwalk – or as one of the coaches named it: “Run for ideas”. After collecting all their ideas, the participants clustered the ideas and voted on those, which they want to take into the next step: prototyping. In this step, the participants are asked to prototype their chosen idea(s). As DT has a user-/human-centric approach, it is always important to validate the outcomes with the users. For that, I invited our colleagues from HR, to make sure, that we have an audience which is connected to the design challenge. The teams then had a couple of minutes each, to present their persona, the persona’s point-of-view and their solution for their persona.
We wrapped up the workshop with an open feedback session. And only then, my heart rate came back to a normal value.
After the workshop, we – the coaches – sat down and shared our impressions about the day. Just then, I realized, that the workshop went pretty well.
Looking back, it was a lot of fun and many, many lessons learned for myself.