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Become a Design Thinking Facilitator

Lesson 5 of 12

Lesson Planning And Time Management

Lee-Sean Huang

Become a Design Thinking Facilitator

Lee-Sean Huang

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Lesson Info

5. Lesson Planning And Time Management

Lesson Info

Lesson Planning And Time Management

So now I'm going to go over a little bit of lesson planning logistics and just managing time. So at the base-line as a facilitator, your job is to keep time, and so back to the Fitness Instructor example and parallel, sometimes that just means timing people for their sprints. Right, you'll just tell people, okay, I'm setting the clock, you have five minutes to come up with as many ideas as possible. And that's a good external motivator, right? When you're doing that, you want to be strict on time for the most part. I often use a like bell, a cowbell, that I'll bring, or a chime, or something like that, even a gong. And so that's really just setting the mood, setting the tone of okay, you're always one step ahead and there's always a little bit less time than is actually necessary, right? So basically you want to set a small amount of time to get people to be creative in that time, even though it could take an hour to do something, you say, Okay, I'm going to give 30 minutes to prototyp...

e something. You also want to set the mood, right? So setting the mood could be in a lot of different ways. Sometimes its helpful to just get people off site, so that their removed from their day to day work, if that's possible, or if you have to stay on site, you can decorate the room in a way that's maybe different from the typical norms. Even if it's things like, you know, cheap party decorations or just putting materials all over the room like Legos, or Play-Dough, or toys for people to play with that just changes the mood of what you're doing. And, you could also play music so when people are working in their teams, working in their groups, to ideate or prototype, be a DJ, and create music that sets the mood. You want to build suspense, like I said before, when we've talked about the progressive reveal of story telling, right? So you're always one step ahead. You don't know what's going to come next. And, then also give your participants short sprints of things to do, right? So maybe it's your very first user interview is only five minutes long, it's only 15 minutes long, and then you have an ideation session that's 10 minutes long, 15 minutes long, but keep that clock going and ticking forward. Especially in early iterations of a workshop where they're designing something, like their daily routine. Once you're designing some real things for work, you can give them more time, but early on, if you break it down into small chunks of time it forces them to be creative in new ways, and you don't have time to really argue or discuss something as a team because you have to do something. And of course, as I said before, stay one step ahead of your participants. There's always not enough time to do everything, but the whole point of this ethos, this mind set of design thinking is that you're just failing forward, you're learning as you're making, and that it's good enough to iterate upon. So, there is all sorts of icebreakers or stokes that you can use, the five why's is one icebreaker that works. You can come up with all sorts of things. We will do rock, paper, scissors whether it's just pairing off and doing that, or we've also done it in a room of a hundred people, where you basically do a competition of two people face off rock, paper, scissors and then the loser joins the winner in a conga line, until you've got like all hundred people in the room, and two groups at the end cheering each other on for the final. You can do things like Charades or mirroring, so we do another activity where we have people partner up, and then you'll start with one partner whose the leader and you go through different animal things, right, and so you can be T-Rex or you can be like a cat and then you have to do charades and mirror each other. And that's just a way of practicing these mirror neurons of empathy and getting people to be attentive to each other, tuned in, listening to each other, watching each other. You can also do things like passing an imaginary ball, and that you could have everyone circle up in a team, and just pass an imaginary ball. So if I pass the ball, he's going to pass it back, and so that's also a form of charades, and it gets us looking at each other, and starting to imagine things that don't exist. We've talked about the five why's already, which is just a way to get people to practice interviewing each other, learning about human needs and motivations. Artifact stories is a way to break the ice as well, and basically the instructions for this is simple. Have people pair off and have people basically do show and tell, so tell the story behind some object that you have on your person. It could be any artifact, it could be an accessory like a watch, it could be your smart phone case, it could be your glasses, it could be a tattoo, an accessory, whatever it is. This works because it breaks the ice and often times, really mundane things can open up very personal stories. I did this once in a workshop, I had the students do this activity, and one of the women in the workshop talked about the story of her glasses, and how they were the pair of glasses she bought after her baby died, and so that opened up this very personal story from a very simple mundane question. This is a good skill for user interviews as well, because you want to build rapport with your users, the people that you're researching, and you don't necessarily want to just go straight in with your laundry list of questions, like you know, what laundry detergent do you use? Or like, you know, how much coffee do you drink per day? Like you're not going to jump right into your market research or user research. You can ask really simple questions, like this, like tell me the story of your scarf. Things like that, that break the ice and build rapport, so you can also bring that to your facilitation to have your students do that as well. We've already done the high five thing, and so that's just a real brain science hack there, right? You're really kind of hacking the dopamines, the endorphins, all of these hormones in our heads that come from human social contact, and so if you can get people to actually touch, whether it's a high five, or shaking hands, or doing stuff, you're building that human empathy and connection. And so you could also do things like synchronized clapping, or games where you snap twice and then somebody else has to snap three times, and somebody else snaps four times. You could do all sorts of things like that, that are just about breaking the ice and building this team dynamic. Some notes on group formation. So if you have a small enough team, you only need everybody in one team, but it gets pretty hard to get people working together in teams that are bigger than four to six people. See, while people are learning, it's helpful to subdivide the teams up. You can think about organic versus assigned groups. Sometimes I just let my students pick their own teams, but other times it's helpful to do some curation of the teams, so maybe you get somebody in Finance to work with somebody from the Design Department. People who don't typically work together, to work together, helps create a little bit of tension, and a little bit of magic in that space. Things to consider, like dealing with hierarchy and formality. So sometimes in very corporate context, people are afraid to act silly around their boss, right? So ways we've dealt with this include rather than using real names and self-introductions, we actually skip self-introductions completely, and everybody has a code name. So if you're calling the Facilitator, Froggy, and the CEO of the company, Pinky, and then we don't know as Facilitators, we deliberately don't ask, and then we can reveal people's identities and names later, but you're setting that mindset, you're setting that scene where there is some suspension of disbelief in that magic circle, that can help with that hierarchy and formality. It doesn't work all the time, sometimes you just have to break things up. Maybe you have to facilitate a group that's all senior people and another group that's more mid-level people, and break that up so it works. When we were facilitating design workshops in Rwanda, working at the Genocide Museum in Kigali, we did these co-design workshops with different groups of people. So we had a different workshop with the Genocide survivors themselves, another workshop with the actual staff members of the Memorial, and then another workshop with members of the Rwandan Government, and that was for scheduling purposes, but also to deal with this hierarchy and formality. To make sure that people would be comfortable with people who were like them, and then you can always take the ideas and the learnings from these separate workshops and then make sense of them yourself. I've talked a little bit about coaches and assistants already, it's just really helpful to have a good coach and facilitator to student or participant ratio, because it can be very high touch. You know, if you have a team that's not used to doing this, you want to have some plants, some people who have done this before who can lead by example, whether or not they are officially a coach. It's also helpful to have assistance, in terms of the logistics of what's going on. So if you want to do some of the stage craft, being one step ahead of people, you just want your materials available. So, yes. I have a question about the coaches and assistants, how much training do you give those? I mean, if you just lead them through one cycle, like is that enough? Would you throw them into a big board room with a bunch of executives, or do you have a team that you travel with, or how does it work for you? Yeah, we have a team of independent contractors who we work with on different projects OK who do this all the time, OK and then we also recruit from former students, OK and so that gives us the flexibility to scale up and down as we need to. Cool. Yeah, so the point of having the assistants too, is to help with logistics, right? So we'll talk about materials coming up, but you really want to be tight with your materials and just have things appear, and part of this progressive reveal thing, is also revealing the materials, or revealing the activities just in time. So we did a very short workshop with the High Line Network in New York City, so the High Line is this elevated train track that's been turned into a park in New York, and they have a network of people from all over North America who are building similar Infrastructure Reuse Projects. And in our workshop with them, we hid the materials that they were going to use in tin foil, so we built these little tin foil, like giant burrito things, that were on every table, and then after we explained the exercise of you're going to redesign some Infrastructure Reuse Project. Then they open up the materials and found the craft supplies, so think about it as an unboxing as well, and so having some assistants who can help you arrange these materials, distribute them just in time helps with that stage craft of this facilitation. So speaking of materials, there's a lot of materials that are available for you to use. A lot of them are free, so the Stanford D School has a ton of downloadable worksheets that are creative commons, so you can download them, use them for your own materials, and they come with facilitator guides as well. So we have links to that in the bonus materials, for this course, where you can download their worksheets, and use them as activities that you can mix and match on your own. You want maybe an MP3 player or computer with speakers that can play music while you're designing this facilitation or maybe you even have someone who is the dedicated DJ. One thing that we have done before, too, when we have multiple coaches, is we crowd source a playlist and each of the coaches submits two or three songs that we like, and then it's put into a playlist, and then we can share it with the participants in the workshop afterwards, as well, so that's fun. You want name tags, especially if people don't know each other, and if you need to do the funny nickname name tags, you can pre-populate those name tags as well. And then you want craft supplies. So the craft supplies can be anything. I have an Amazon wish list full of these craft supplies if you want to look at that, but you can also create whatever you want, from recycled materials, right? Great things to use are old newspapers, old magazines, old cardboard boxes, and then you can also buy some craft supplies like paper clips, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners are a lot of fun, Play-Dough. And then you also want some like silly things as well, like you can get those like stick-on eyes. You can get different colored puffs, you can get glitter, you can get kimchi stickers, all sorts of things that you can play with, and none of this costs a lot of money, and you can reuse these materials over and over again.

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.