Playing with Design Thinking

>> German Version <<

In this article I share my concept for a design thinking workshop. The aim of the workshop is to develop ideas for innovative educational products through the practical application of design thinking. Secondly, the participants should reflect on the method of design thinking and be able to use it themselves. The workshop can easily be adapted. For example to develop project ideas, learning concepts or teaching scenarios. Furthermore, the concept can also be helpful for all those who want to learn about the method of design thinking in general.

The following materials are available under Public Domain:

For each team you will also need a set of ‘Trend Cards’. They are available for free via Board Of Innovation.

Framework and structure of the workshop

The workshop is scheduled for a period of at least 4 hours plus breaks. If more time is available, more exercises can be integrated or more time can be made available for the individual exercises. The workshop is best conducted in a larger room that offers participants the opportunity to work together at tables in small groups of 4-5 people. In addition, a presentation opportunity is needed to present the next activities. The total number of participants should not exceed 20 persons, which corresponds to 4 groups with 5 persons.

Depending on which activities are selected, different materials are required. At least you need Post-Its and some 'handicraft materials' like plasticine, scissors, glue and coloured paper for the design of the prototypes. My suggestion also includes an exercise with Lego and the practical design of a persona with a wooden figure. If these materials are not available, you need to find alternatives or choose different activities.

Overview of the workshop

The design thinking process is generally divided into 5 steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. There are several activities for each step.

Since the workshop is about both trying out and reflecting on design thinking, each activity contains a triad:

  1. the activity is introduced: What to do? How much time is available?
  2. the activity is done, i.e. made/tried by the participants.
  3. the activity is explained: What is its methodological meaning? With what aim was it chosen?

In general two opposing movements can be distinguished in the design thinking process: On the one hand, there is divergence, which means thinking as broadly and as diversely as possible. On the other hand, there is convergence, which means structuring, selecting and further developing. Participants should be aware of which movement is required in each activity.


The workshop can easily be carried out in three time blocks

A. Beginning and challenge definition (includes phase 1: empathize and phase 2: define) (90 min)
B. Brainstorming and idea development (includes phase 3: ideate and starts with phase 4: prototype) (90 min)
C. Prototype Design and presentation (includes Phase 4: Prototype Design and Phase 5: Testing) (60 min)

In between, sufficient time should be available for breaks. The agenda of the workshop can be found in the presentation and the hand-out. For your own workshop you can simply add, delete or modify activities.

Recommendations for further readings

Reach me out, if you do have feedback, comments or questions: email or Twitter.

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