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Lesson 10 from: Become a Design Thinking Facilitator

Lee-Sean Huang

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When you get to prototyping, it's really important to get people to just start making things. A lot of people who are used to more critical cultures or more verbal cultures will want to debate things, they want to talk things through before they're ready to make. This is important to give just enough time to make something but not too much time that they're arguing and going in circles. It's also helpful to have a coach, or you as the facilitator, just actually get hands on and build things if other people aren't moving. This is from the other class as well. We were working on a design challenge based on Matt, who is one of our students, but also works here at Creative Live, and he gave us this challenge of helping him scale-up his art practice. We looked at different ways of interpreting what scale-up means. It could be about audience size. It could be about internationalizing his reach as an artist, or just even connecting with a community of different artists and art fans. I was dem...

onstrating this in the course but also being hands-on in terms of making things. We chose to use the table as kind of like a board game, and then we built different artifacts, different props. Some of them were avatars to represent characters in our story. Some of them were actual props. Then we acted it out in a skit. You want to think about the prototype as not just making an artifact, but telling a story with that artifact, whether it's a role play or a board game or something like that, to come to life. Here's another example from a pharmaceutical company that I mentioned earlier where they re-designed the version zero reset of their intranet in a short amount of time, just using some scrap cardboard, Post-it Notes and even some stick on eyes. This is not necessarily gonna go into production as their prototype, but at least it surfaces all of the needs and features and functionalities there. Everybody has a say there. It doesn't matter if you're a salesperson or a tech person. Everybody can write something on a Post-it or draw something on a Post-it and put it on there to co-design that together. That's the point. You're creating these boundary artifacts that can spark conversation, and that people can tell a story around. You can also prototype using visuals. I've created and demonstrated this one. Sandwich Squirrel is my made-up startup. The point of using a storyboard like this is that sometimes you don't have physical materials to work with, but you can use Keynote, you can use PowerPoint to just mock something up in a quick way that serves as a prototype. In this story I'm working, it's late, I haven't had lunch yet, so I fire up the Sandwich Squirrel app, choose what I wanna eat, and then the drone comes and delivers my sandwich. We'll talk more about this in the Futurecasting Course but the point here is that it tells the story of the user, me. It brings the service to life. It brings the concept the life so that we can debate it, we can discuss it, we can prototype it in more high fidelity. It also creates a world in which this exists. What does New York City look like when Sandwich Squirrel is operating everywhere? How does it affect or disrupt these delivery guys? What does it do for sustainability? We can think about all of these things with this prototype with this story. Prototypes are also thinking tools, in terms of thinking about the larger social, cultural, economic implications of something as well as just simply telling the user's story and the user journey in a short amount of time. Like I've demonstrated already, you can do that in totally low-fi analog ways, or you can mock something up digitally, like I've done with Sandwich Squirrel. We have the prototype feedback. This is really teaching people who may not come from a design background and a design crit background to give feedback in a way that's helpful, and that is useful to the design process. This maps to the testing phase. It's really important here to train your participants to not just be good design thinkers who are showing their work, but also to be good clients. As designers, as facilitators, you're often a bridge between folks who come from different cultures or different disciplines. People might be giving feedback in different ways. It's helpful if you give people some sort of scaffolding to give their feedback through. The four points that we teach are, the first one is the positives, the pluses, what works. That allows us, you wanna start with the positive. Then what needs improvement, and you can always turn back to the how might we brief. Does it address the original question? Does it address the need of the user profile? It's really important here especially with the critique. You don't want people giving feedback in ways, oh I think that looks like crap, or I don't like blue. That's not necessarily helpful feedback because it's just an early prototype. If you can have people give feedback through the lens of the user profiles. Does it actually address this person's needs? Does it really reframe this challenge in a new way? That helps come up with more constructive improvements. You also wanna capture questions, concerns, doubts, you'll capture that as well. Also surprises and new ideas. The point of prototyping is that you're prototyping to learn. Your first prototype will never be perfect. You always wanna get things that are new questions, new ideas, things that are surprising, so that you can then iterate from there. If you have some sort of guide and structure to giving feedback, then you can organize the feedback in a way that's actionable, and it's not just opinions about what people like and preferences like that. That's a recap of the activities that we do in the other class, and how you can take them into your own facilitations, and what you can do to remix them from there.

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Ratings and Reviews

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.

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