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Former Member

During and after Design Thinking infused projects and workshops I hear this: “That was such a great experience.  Why are Design Thinking sessions so different and so successful?”

Cooking is my hobby, and as we approach the end of the year, this will be a period where I will spend quite some time in the kitchen. So let me dare to build a parallel with Design Thinking, as I believe to a certain extent the way the different parameters are impacting the end result are quite similar.

THE RIGHT CHALLENGE – To start with I need to know what kind of evening I’m “facing”. What I mean is, is this an evening where you want to test some wines, an evening where you just want to relax with friends and need something good but that you actually prepare fully before or an evening where you cook to delight your guests by bringing something new to the table.

It is not really different when looking at a Design Thinking workshop, we spend a fair amount of time, before anything else to decide which challenge we will look at.

THE RIGHT PARTICIPANTS – If I assume I go for the latter then I have the opportunity to mix to my usual guests some new faces, they do not know, to bring some more “spice” and variety in the evening.  Whatever I cook, I need to make sure I have guests around the table, which will be able to appreciate (if I’m up to it) what is served to them.

Picking the participants and making sure we get a multi-disciplinary view in all teams is exactly the same critical step a coach has to go thru when setting up his workshop with his internal or external customer.

THE RIGHT AGENDA – once I know my goal and who will be sitting around the table I can start finalizing the menu. I’m using on purpose the word “finalizing”, as at least in my case, as soon as I know the type of event and the guests, a menus starts automatically to get “generated”, mixing things I have already done and stuff I read or tried somewhere and always wanted to realize myself. This is the moment where you then decide how many courses, what type of courses, which wines, … but always along Appetizer, Entree and dessert.

Designing the agenda is also happening in the same sequence, we know the challenge, we have the participants and number of teams, we know how much time we have maximum and what the deliverable should be. With those elements we can along the Design Thinking phases pick the techniques I feel are the more appropriate to what is expected and also to my style.

THE ENVIRONMENT – obviously then the decoration of the table is the next step. I need to have an environment that corresponds to the menu I’m thinking about.

With Design Thinking same expectation actually, we are always looking for rooms, where we possibly have enough space to fit all participants, potentially with round tables and with enough space to move around, as well as on the walls/windows to store the post-it based data we will produce

What also plays a role is the cook, or coach with Design thinking. He is the architect, he is the one that has to orchestrate all steps along the process.

Design Thinking is more than just learning the methodology, you need empathy and over time obviously experience plays a big role and adds to one’s value as a coach.

I work for SAP and over the past few years we have built a terrific momentum around Design Thinking, started thru our founder Hasso Plattner. We trained many people, a fraction of those are now excellent coaches that are week for week driving wonderful results at and for customers, both internally and externally.

As for cooking for the Chef, the Design Thinking coach is definitely a cardinal asset without which there is no success and recently we collaborated on highlighting some of these characteristics in this infographic.  Take a look.Having the right person lead you through the process can make all the difference!

As a last note there are situations in a Design Thinking engagement that go beyond my cooking boundaries. E.g. sometimes guests want to change the menu on the fly or even start cooking themselves, get ingredients that I don’t have at hand. It’s quite hard, nearly impossible for me to be prepared for such events in my home kitchen. However as a DT coach this is exactly what you need to cope with.

Drop me a comment, a note an e-mail if you would like to find out how we can help your team solve that impossible problem. We have the right people to help you.

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