Design thinking workshops are becoming increasingly popular in corporate environments because they force businesses to humanize their approach to solving design-related problems. By leading a design thinking workshop, brands are better able to empathize with their end-user and can focus on making innovation part of the process. 

What Are Design Thinking Workshops?

Design-centric thinking is leading the way for brands everywhere. Too often, brands take an analytic approach to solving their internal or external issues. With a design-centric focus, brands encourage their team members to collaborate with each other to find a creative and unique solution. 

By putting design first in their approach to problem-solving, brands are able to center empathy and put the needs of the end-user first. If your business isn’t already on board with design thinking, leading a design thinking workshop can help your team learn to nurture and foster a user-centric mindset and think with creativity and design in mind. 

Goals of Your Design Thinking Workshop

Ultimately, the main goal of a design thinking workshop is for teams to create user-focused solutions for design-related problems. As you consider leading your own design thinking workshop, identify a series of goals you aim to focus on.

Consider goals such as:

  • Producing groundbreaking ideas
  • Cultivating a community in your workplace through collaboration
  • Strengthening problem-solving skills
  • Generating ideas
  • Empowering creative thinking
  • Engaging your team

Becoming a Design Thinking Expert

Leading a design thinking workshop takes an expert in design thinking methodology. You will need to know the ins and outs of design thinking methodology so you can guide your team to success. 

Want to make sure your design thinking workshop is facilitated by a master? Work with the experts at Voltage Control. Our team of professional design thinking facilitators will give your team the tools you need to hold design thinking workshops of your own, or they’ll run them for you.

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Facilitators leading a design thinking workshop should understand these six steps to design thinking:

  1. Observing and engaging in behavior: Begin by studying your users’ behavior to understand their needs 
  2. Ideation: Next, brainstorm on how to meet users’ needs via divergent thinking
  3. Prototype: Rapid prototyping focuses on testing ideas with real people in real-time to get instantaneous feedback
  4. Feedback: With your prototype in the hands of the end-user, assess how and why the product meets or fails to meet their needs.
  5. Integration: Implement the feedback to improve the design
  6. Application: With your newly improved design, it’s time to move forward with the improved product

The Secret to Leading a Design Thinking Workshop

If you’re heading up a design thinking workshop for the first time, it can be overwhelming to navigate all the available resources. As a facilitator, your job starts with curating and collecting a series of activities to help stimulate your team’s creativity and problem-solving superpowers.

Pro-tip: We specifically created the Control Room App to help anyone leading a virtual workshop ease into the art of facilitating design thinking meetings. It includes countless meeting activities to boost engagement and keep your team impassioned and focused. 

With the right resources to practice leading a design thinking workshop and ample prep time, you can properly prepare your facilitator toolkit.

As you get ready to lead a design thinking workshop, be sure to prepare by:

Identifying workshop objectives 

Your objectives are the clear goals you hope to achieve in your design thinking workshop. Whether you’re trying to troubleshoot your existing design or come up with something entirely new, outlining your aims in the objective is the first step.

Choosing a location 

Your design thinking workshop can take place anywhere: whether it’s held virtually or in a physical location like a conference room. If you’re meeting in person, be sure there is enough physical space for the whole team as well as any equipment you may need.

Creating a workshop agenda

Your agenda should include all the workshop activities that you plan to use. Be sure to leave adequate time in between each activity for your team to engage with each other without burnout from an activity-heavy schedule. 

Gathering workshop materials

If you plan to meet physically, gather all the necessary workshop materials like whiteboards, paper, pens, and anything else you’ll need to complete the activities. 

Design Thinking Facilitator Frameworks

Leading a design thinking workshop begins with using the right facilitator framework. The correct framework will make it easier for you to visually present your ideas to your team as you keep them engaged with easy-to-follow presentations, visually stimulating graphics and well-executed design that will encourage your team to produce their best work. 

Using MURAL templates for your facilitation framework will help your team remain productive and engaged throughout the collaborative process.

Facilitating the Design Thinking Workshop

As the facilitator, you will be leading the charge into the design thinking workshop. With all your prep in place, it’s time to lead a masterful session that will set the tone of the workshop, encourage creative problem solving, and ultimately reach your aforementioned goals. 

Begin your workshop with the right questions to spark incredible dialogue. As you navigate the art of facilitation, having the right facilitator questions in your arsenal will keep your team focused, energized, and ready to brainstorm. 

Asking questions like “How are we feeling?” and “Why are we here today?” sets a conversational tone and helps to loosen your team up before the work begins. With the creative juices flowing your team will be ready to collaborate.

Step One: Diving Into Design Thinking

While your design team is likely already familiar with the concept of design thinking, some may need a refresher course on the subject. At the start of the workshop, give a brief discussion about what design thinking is, its various phases, and its benefits. With a crash course in the concept of design thinking, everyone on your team will be on the right page. 

Step Two: Empathize With the Audience

As you lead your team headfirst into design thinking, prioritize the goal of empathizing with the end-user. This is the best way to humanize the design process and helps your team focus on what the user needs and how to best achieve that. This step is where design thinking activities come into play. 

With popular activities like empathy maps and roleplaying, you can help your team identify with the language, feelings, wants, and needs of the audience. Following each activity, be sure to allow your team to ask questions, and share their findings. 

Step Three: Zeroing In on the Problem & Identifying Solutions

In this step, it’s time to tighten the focus on the problems your user faces. Participants can create problem statements to help guide them through the rest of the workshop. As your team brainstorms possible solutions, lead them through activities to help them stoke the fire of creativity and arrive at the most innovative solution. 

Throughout the discussion, push your team towards coming up with a single refined solution. Ultimately, they should be able to talk about the journey each user will take to solve the same problem on their own. 

Step Four: Closing the Design Thinking Workshop

After a successful workshop of brainstorming and following the design thinking methodology, be sure to thoughtfully close the session by describing the next steps and asking follow-up questions. See how the design team feels about the workshop as well as what they learned.  

Design thinking workshops are powerful and transformative when facilitated flawlessly. With a facilitator well versed in design thinking, the correct facilitation frameworks, engaging activities, and a team filled with passionate collaborators, you’ll be well on your way to leading a design thinking workshop at your company. 

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We can help you facilitate

If you’re interested in facilitating a design thinking workshop but not sure where to get started, we can help. Let’s work together to identify the best approach to leading a design thinking workshop at your company. Contact us at hello@voltagecontrol.com