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Design Thinking in an Hour: Workshop Framework

Miquel Rodríguez

Miquel Rodríguez

Design Thinking in an Hour: Workshop Framework
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Recently, I held a workshop at the Agile Trends Festival for participants to experience the design thinking process and experiment with applying it at the organizational level. The design thinking workshop was built around a generic problem that the attendees themselves were experiencing: finding a work-life balance.  

What is Design Thinking?  

First, let’s back up for just a second to define Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a people-centered approach to finding solutions to complex problems. What does that mean? Instead of focusing on whether or not an idea is technically possible or if it is economically viable, Design Thinking starts by finding out what the user really wants and what they really need.

Design Thinking Workshop

Design Thinking uses the Double Diamond (created by the British company, Design Council) to move through its phases.

Since our design thinking workshop was only 55 minutes long, we dedicated approximately 35 minutes to going through the 4 phases of the Design Thinking process: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. Here is a graphical representation of our agenda:

design thinking workshop

This design thinking workshop was designed for a virtual conference so all phases used Miro for the work space. An image of the Miro board for each Phase is presented below. As depicted above, the groups joined the main room after each phase to reset and ask questions.

First, Define Roles

Before we got started going through the phases, we divided the larger group into smaller groups of 2-6 people and defined roles for each member:  

Client/User (1 person)

  • You will be the user!
  • You will be interviewed to help discover the problems you face in making your work-life balance more equitable.
  • Be ready to explain aspects related to inconveniences you have regarding your own work-life balance.

Designer/Interviewer (1-3 people)

  • Ask questions to discover and better understand the problem to be solved
  • Design solutions.

Observer (0-2 people)

  • Observe the process and take notes about interesting aspects that catch your attention.
  • Help ensure that conversations don’t beat around the bush.
  • You are the time keeper. Be sure that activities stay within their allotted times and move forward at a good pace.

Phase 1: Discover the Problem to Solve

In an interview format, the groups jump into the problems. Since the concept of a work-life balance is different for each person, there is a lot to capture.

Client/User

  • You don’t need to write anything, just answer the questions you’re being asked.
  • Relax, it’s a casual conversation, they’re trying to help you improve your work-life balance.
  • Be honest with your answers.
  • Add specific examples.

Designer/Interviewer

  • Finding an acceptable work-life balance is too generic of a problem to solve. You are looking for specific problems that your user experiences related to their own work-life balance. Try to get specific, real-life situations where you can improve the user’s life.
  • Have a friendly, relaxed conversation. It’s the best way to get them to share more so you can really find out what problems to solve.
  • Possible questions to ask:
    • How satisfied are you with your working hours (on a scale of 0-10?)

    • How do you think your schedule affects your work-life balance?
    • Are you more energetic in the morning or afternoon?
    • What would you like to do on a daily basis that you aren’t able to do now? What do you think prevents you from doing this?

Observer

  • Using Post-its, note any observations about the process that you think are interesting or any conclusions that you reach.
  • If necessary, remind others to write down their conclusions.

Miro Board Design

design thinking workshop

Phase 2: Define the Specific Problem

In this phase, focus on specifying which problem you wanted to solve, of all the possible problems that involve our user. 

Client/User + Designer/Interviewer

  • Work together. 

  • Share the insights that the interviewer made during the previous phase. 

  • Reformulate the problem so that you can focus on it from here on.

Observer

  • Using Post-its, note any observations about the process that you think are interesting or any conclusions that you reach.
  • Please contribute your conclusions from phase 1.

Miro Board Design

design thinking workshop

Phase 3: Develop a Solution

Starting with a specific problem, it is time to think about a solution. During the AgileTrends workshop, we applied brainstorming and a prioritization matrix. (But there are many other techniques.)

Client/User + Designer/Interviewer

  • Using Post-its, note any solutions that you think may solve the specific problem that you formulated in Phase 2.
  • Position them in the appropriate quadrant, depending on the expected benefit and effort required.
  • The more ideas you can come up with, the better!

Observer

  • Using Post-its, note any observations about the process that you think are interesting or any conclusions that you reach.
  • Please contribute your conclusions from the previous phases.

Miro Board Design

design thinking workshop

Phase 4: Create a Prototype

Finally, it is time to propose how you might design a prototype. This prototype would be an MVP, something small and inexpensive that allows for the solution to be tested. 

Client/User + Designer/Interviewer

  • Choose 1 solution.

  • Document how you could make a prototype or MVP, something small and inexpensive to test the solution with real users so you can validate it.

Observer

  • Using Post-its, note any observations about the process that you think are interesting or any conclusions that you reach.
  • Please contribute your conclusions from the previous phases.

Miro Board Design

design thinking workshop

Full product solutioning with Design Thinking typically can’t be achieved in an hour, but this quick session is effective for helping participants experience the Double Diamond approach from start to finish and understand how an organization can benefit from this innovation-driven process.

Happy Design Thinking,

 — Miquel & Juan Luis

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About the Author

Miquel Rodríguez

Miquel Rodríguez

Miquel Rodríguez is an experienced trainer and consultant who has dedicated his career helping organizations get the most out of their IT projects and teams. As Consulting Director at Netmind, he works with large enterprises to lead organizational improvements and agile transformations. Miquel holds a degree in Computer Science from Universitat Autònoma de Catalunya, a Masters in IT Management, an Executive MBA from La Salle University, and a Design Thinking for Business Innovation program from Aalto University of Helsinky and ESADE Business School. He has trained thousands of Project Managers and Agile Practitioners for companies such as Telefonica, BBVA, ABERTIS, AIRBUS, Orange, Zurich, Nissan, Bacardi, T‐Systems and CaixaBank. Miquel has also taught at several Universities. Connect with Miquel on LinkedIn.

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