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5 Tips for Facilitating an Effective Design Thinking Workshop

Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that can be used in a variety of settings. This blog post will discuss how to facilitate an effective design thinking workshop. We will outline tips and tricks for setting up the environment, running the workshop, and dealing with challenges that may arise. Let’s get started!

Creating the Right Environment

The first step in facilitating a design thinking workshop is to create a safe and welcoming environment. It is vital that participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas, and they should also feel like they can take risks. To create this environment, the facilitator should establish ground rules at the beginning of the workshop. For example, you might ask participants to respect each other’s ideas, refrain from judgment, and focus on the problem. Additionally, it would be helpful to ensure that the participants understand what design thinking is and how it can enable the problem-solving process. The facilitator can also clarify the advantages of effective design thinking by providing participants with examples and case studies. Most importantly, keep the team small and intimate for productive discussion. Somewhere between 5-7 participants is usually the magic spot.

Establishing a Clear Goal

Once the environment is set, you can begin running the workshop. The first step is to define the problem that you want to solve. It is essential to be as specific as possible when doing this. A few points that may help this process are defined end users, a particular product/service, and the problem that this product/service can address for the user. For example, Social Impacted is helping Sarah, a Program Manager, scope a design thinking workshop that can help her team increase their productivity level.

Encourage Innovative Co-creation

After refining the problem, participants will work together to generate ideas. This is usually done through brainstorming, and it is important to encourage participants to think outside of the box. Some helpful tools we’ve used are miroboards and mural boards. These online toolkits can enable animated discussion without overlooking anyone’s idea. You can use several templates to design the workshop, but I encourage facilitators to tailor every board to their specific use case. Session Lab’s workshop templates and Hyper Island provide excellent resources for this process.

Keep the Discussion Moving

Throughout the design thinking workshop, it is crucial to keep things moving. Avoid getting bogged down in details and encourage participants to take breaks when needed. It is also helpful to plan a few icebreakers or games in case the energy level drops. After generating a list of ideas, it is time to start narrowing down these ideas. Participants will need to start evaluating the feasibility of each idea and eliminate those that are far-fetched. Once you have a few ideas that seem promising, it is time to start prototyping. This is the process of creating a model or mock-up of the solution.

Flexibility is Key in an Effective Design Thinking Workshop!

Finally, be prepared to deal with challenges that may arise. For example, you might have a participant who is not comfortable sharing their ideas, or you might have a group that is having difficulty agreeing on an idea. If you encounter any challenges, try to stay calm and flexible. Remember, the goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment where participants feel comfortable taking risks.

Design thinking is a powerful tool that can be used to solve complex problems. Do you have any tips for facilitating an effective design thinking workshop? Let us know in the comments below!

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