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Become a Design Thinking Facilitator

Lesson 8 of 12

Design Thinking In Action

Lee-Sean Huang

Become a Design Thinking Facilitator

Lee-Sean Huang

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Lesson Info

8. Design Thinking In Action

Lesson Info

Design Thinking In Action

You can also give case studies of design thinking in action, so in my other course, I tell the story of, uh, GE Healthcare, and the adventure series, and there's a Tedx talk from Doug Dietz where he talks about reframing this challenge around MRI machines and scanners for children and their families, and how they learned that it wasn't enough just to have great industrial engineering, but that they needed to have some empathy for the, the children, and their parents, and their families, and they came up with these adventure series, where, using just some paint and decals, they reframed this very scary, traumatic medical experience, to something where some kids even asked their parents if they could come back to the hospital the next day. Also shared some stories around reframing detergent, um, so, told the story of Tide Naturals, of P&G, where they found out that their users in India were washing their clothing by hand, like 80 percent or more of their consumers were washing clothi...

ng by hand, and, that, the detergent, although it was good for getting the whites whiter and the colors brighter, was irritating their, the hands of the hand washers, and so, through that human empathy, they were able to reformulate their product, sell it at a cheaper price, and then also reach a low income customer segment, and build their business there. So they're just a couple examples of design thinking and human empathy, and so sometimes it's helpful to just have a pause, if you're facilitating something, and share these stories as inspiration, right? That's part of the whole instructor, facilitator, fitness instructor kind of mindset, too, is sometimes you just wanna show something that's inspiring, that may not be related to the industry of your participants, to just see that it's possible to do something pretty simply once you have that human empathy and you have that reframe. The next part is user profiles, and how might we's. And so this is related to the define phase of any given design thinking process. And the point here is to capture what you've learned from a contextual inquiry from an interview with a user. And so this is just a way to distill what you've learned. In our practice, we don't create imaginary personas, we like to use profiles of real people, because it just grounds it in the real, and it helps us be more empathetic to a real person that our design team has met, rather than some imaginary persona that's made up of a composite. So with this user profile, we, it's sort of like a Mad Lib, where you just fill in the blanks, and it's also helpful to take a picture of the person you interviewed if they're not in the room. So, fill in we met, and it's the person's name, what they do, what their affiliation is. What the person needs. So the need could be, you know, to be fulfilled at work, or, they need to connect with new customers, or, they need a better way to wake up in the morning. Whatever that need is, should be a fairly high-level need. And it's also important here not to assume the solution, right? So the need isn't oh, they need a better mousetrap. Or, oh, they need um, a, a stronger detergent. The need should be okay, they need clean clothes, and they need not to have their hands irritated, right? So thinking about those needs more broadly allows us to be more open with our ideation and our concept development. It's also helpful here to think about the norms that are currently binding our users, right? So what are they constrained by, what are they hindered by? It could be time, it could be resources, it could be availability of technology or tools, but it could also be a social norm, right? Maybe they need a way to connect with people, but they're shy, and they're constrained by that. And then you also wanna think about some end state where your user is winning. What would make it awesome for them? What would make things delightful for them? What would make it game changing for them? And so this, already, is a little bit of future casting, where you have to imagine a world where you've solved their problem, you've solved the issue of the user. So, how can you bring that to life? And also keep this fairly high level, you don't want to assume the solution here, you're just thinking about this end state, or maybe the feeling of the goal. So, it'd be awesome if, um, you know, the, the people washing their clothing by hand didn't have to feel irritated, or it would be awesome if they could do their laundry in less time. Like, think about that in a fairly high-level way, without assuming a specific solution. Hey, hi Lee Sean, you made an interesting point about uh, user profile versus persona. Can you explain more, 'cause one of the things I'm curious about is how do you ensure that you select a user or a user profile that's kind of representative of, um, the target segment that you're trying to solve the problem for? Yeah. So I think there's a couple different situations to think about. The first one, if it's just a teaching situation, you have to suspend disbelief a little bit, and just think about the one or two users that you actually interview as like, the client, right? So you're not necessarily trying to design something that will have mainstream appeal, you don't have to necessarily think about the market size, at that point. If you're facilitating something that has some real life stakes in terms of you're actually coming up with a new product or service for a company, then you'll wanna look for these users that may be like, a typical user, or somebody that represents like an actual market size that makes sense business wise. But it's still really helpful to think about extreme users. So, in the case of the Indian example, with the detergent, like, there it was mainstream, like 80 percent of the people were washing by hand, so that's not really an extreme user, that's a fairly mainstream case. But an extreme user could be like, somebody who collects all of the Pokemon cards, or somebody who buys all of the action figures that a brand is making. And so, that may not be, like, the whole market size, but those are potential early adopters that you might be designing for first. Uh, one example from Lego, when they were going through some financial difficulties with their brand, is that they started focusing on adult users of Lego, which is a really small segment of the whole Lego user population, but those adults spend more than kids or people who are buying for kids, like, ten to one, right? So you have like, adults who have used Legos all of their lives, and they'll buy every single kit, and so even though that's not like, representative of their market, thinking about these extreme users is a good way to help you think about innovations and so that allowed Lego to pivot some of their strategy to focus on these social groups and these meetups with these adult Lego users. Can you elaborate more on how a user profile is more effective from your point of view than a persona? Yeah, sure, I mean I think it's just the realness of the user profile, where you can have multiple user profiles that you just put on the board in your studio or in the space where you're facilitating, that I think because it's a real person, where you literally say like, we met so and so, then you're treating that person as your user, your client, rather than this persona that's like made up of five different people, right? Like, personas I think have, have value, in a marketing sense or in a targeting sense, but when you're designing, I think that personal connection and that direct empathy helps, helps more when it's a real person and not just a made up person. So with the how might we statement, this is really where practice and experience as a facilitator comes into play. The how might we statement really helps focus the definition of your problem, and so if you don't have a compelling how might we statement, you may not have enough focus to do something in the time you're allotted, or, it's just too specific and you've already assumed the answer. So you don't wanna assume the answer in the how might we statement, but it also needs to be specific enough for people to actually do something with. And this just comes from practice. What we do in facilitation sometimes is we let the students write the first draft themselves, or in consultation with their coaches, and then if it's a longer facilitation we just, we sleep on it, and then we'll, maybe we'll rewrite the how might we's overnight, or we come back and we refine them over time, but basically that's the thing to consider, right? It should be specific enough that, that it's actionable, but not like, so specific that you've assumed the answer. And this is really something where it's helpful to have some sort of mentor, or somebody more experienced to help just gut check some of the how might we's to figure out what works.

Class Description

So you’ve done your homework and you now understand what design thinking is and the power it has to revolutionize the way you do business. But the only way it can really have an impact is if key players throughout your organization embrace design thinking principles and are willing to put them into practice.

Basically, you need to become a design thinking evangelist, coach and trainer. This course will instruct you on how to explain the method and mindset for creative problem framing and solving and show others how to implement this innovative process.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Make the case for learning design thinking.
  • Introduce and teach design thinking to others.
  • Facilitate engaging learning experiences.
  • Teach "mindset," not just "method."
  • Sustain interest and engagement throughout the training process.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Design Thinking Resources

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Getting Started with Adobe Stock

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Darwin Antipolo

The course fits my need in supplementing my DT facilitation activities. It was well designed, paced properly and full of useful tips. Thank you!

Carlos Encalada

This follow-up to Lee-Sean's Design Thinking for Business Innovation helped me to strategize and envision how I would bring these principles into my agency context. I look forward to using his guidance during this workshop in a way that is appropriate to a community healthcare setting.


There is a lot of common facilitator knowledge and skills shared in this course. The course was useful for me and helped me connecting the dots.