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Buying a Design Thinking Workshop?

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

10 Questions to Ask:

Today in the marketplace, we see lots of folks expressing interest in building organizational innovation capacity, syncronized with the levels of complexity facing them, ending up in a "Design Thinking Workshop". Later they recognize several disconnects. With so much hype around the subject of Design Thinking there is lots of confusion out there.

We recently wrote a book on the subject of Design Thinking and in doing so we learned a lot about what is and is not going on around this slippery subject, in the academic community, in the practice communities, in workshops, etc. In doing the book we realized that an insightful criteria framework for considering workshops is often missing so here below we are sharing one for those interested.

Deeper Insight Criteria Framework

10 PreWorkshop Questions to Ask:

Recognizing that philosophy is not methodology ask these questions to anyone pitching a Design Thinking workshop.:

1. How is your broadly stated design philosophy connected to your actual methodology? Are the methods being framed as “Design Thinking” assumption-boxed or assumption-free? Do the methods being taught in the workshop contain up-front assumptions that the challenges and outcome paths are always product, service, experience regardless of what the actual organizational or societal problems might be? Do the methods start with the assumption of product, service, experience?

2. Do you explain how the workshop connects to real world continuous VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity)?

3. Is Open Challenge Framing taught in the workshop?

4. Does the workshop contain a clear and actionable definition of what innovation is today?

5. Are innovation behaviors taught in the workshop or is it primarily focused on techniques?

6. Are the embedded thinking styles of your team surfaced and brought into the workshop conversation? Is the present emphasis of your existing culture discussed in the workshop?

7. Is the creation of psychological safety part of the workshop? If so how is it created? If not, why not?

8. Is the role of sensemaking in the innovation cycle explained in the workshop? Are the basic skills of visual sensemaking taught in the workshop program?

9. Is there a skills-progression ladder leading to more advanced skills beyond an initial workshop?

10. Is the workshop a stand-alone or do you explain how it connects to inclusive innovation culture building?

Our Humantific readers will know that some time ago, due to the rising complexity of challenges facing organizations and societies we pressed the RESET button on Design Thinking.

This is what we share in our recent book:

We are always happy to have conversations on this subject.

For more info write to us at kickitup (at) humantific (dot) com.

PS: Of course we should all be aware, that if you ask most professionally educated designers, they would suggest also asking if any of the folks involved in creating and or delivering the Design Thinking Workshop you are considering have any design education beyond a Stanford type crash course...or from someone else's Design Thinking workshop....:-) The now widespread notation of "Certification in Design Thinking" typically means that person has no formal design education. Would you want to learn science thinking or engineering thinking from a person with neither of those educational backgrounds? In the marketplace you can find "Master Class in Design Thinking" being given by folks who have never set foot in an actual design school. Lots of funny stuff goes on in the wild west marketplace so buyer beware is perhaps the best advice. Most Design Thinking workshops are great for participation skills...not so great at the level of teaching.



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