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Former Member

During and after Design Thinking infused projects and workshops I often get the question “what are the success factors of such a great Design Thinking experience?”.

It’s quite simple, besides having great and multifaceted people in the team(s), a good environment and the Design Thinking process itself, the coach also plays an important role to ensure the success of an engagement.


But what are the skills and characteristics of a DT coach?

Besides understanding the Design Thinking process itself there are some other aspects you should consider when selecting a coach for your next engagement.

E.g. a coach needs to define a Design Challenge with the customer and understand how to translate the Design Challenge / Starting Question into a meaningful agenda. This includes the ability to carefully select the right DT exercises to drive the teams towards valuable outcome depending on the topic. DT can be applied in many different areas, e.g. operational excellence, requirements engineering, product design, strategy definition (business and IT), strategy transformation, ... . All areas require to adjust the DT process and the exercises used.

During the workshop the coach needs to be flexible enough to change the agenda on the fly depending on the speed, context, outcome etc. of the workshop.

Additionally there are some psychological aspects like understanding group dynamics, follow conversations, seek hidden statements, motivate people, create a positive atmosphere, challenge people, drive for empathy for users, challenge ideas, gently steer individuals back to the topic and understand how to politely interrupt senior business leaders. Understanding the timing when a group has built enough context to have a jump start for ideation or drive them back one step. Observing whether a group understands what they are trying to solve “are they set on the right tack?”.

I stumbled across a graphic which I think nicely shows the different elements that a Design Thinking Coach needs to deliver/have/convey/occupy/…
have a look:

At SAP we believe that DT should be a skill with global availability. Therefore we've build a global center of excellence and developed people worldwide to become Design Thinking coaches.

Feel free to reach out to us if you need support for your next engagement.



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