CFC Media Lab | Design Thinking Techniques Workshop

By Christine Liebig ● February 24, 2015 11:00

ideaBOOST Accelerator Design Series | Design Thinking Techniques Workshop
Supported by the Harbinger Foundation
CFC Campus | Toronto, ON
February 6-7, 2015

What would the cover of the Wired Magazine look like if it featured your company? What would the headline read? Who would they quote? What pictures would they use? Not the usual questions that come to mind when developing a new product, growing a start up, or re-imaging a more amicable and efficient work environment. Yet these questions reflect just one of the many alternate approaches to problem solving that design thinking principles and processes are based on.

The CFC Media Lab ideaBOOST Accelerator, with the generous support of the Harbinger Foundation, recently delivered a hands-on, intensive, day-and-a-half workshop introducing design thinking methodology and problem solving principles.

Participants invited to this workshop, the first in a series of design-based initiatives between ideaBOOST and the Harbinger Foundation, ranged the gamut from ideaBOOST portfolio companies and mentors, creative business owners, academics, and both CFC and Media Lab staff.

“The Harbinger Foundation is very happy to support ideaBOOST and enable the CFC to enrich their program portfolio. The Design Thinking Techniques Workshop was a learn-by-doing environment that asked all of us to roll up our sleeves, join a group and dive in. I think that everyone walked away with new ideas that were immediately applicable to their work.” Connie Wansbrough, Harbinger Foundation.

Facilitator Suzanne Stein, Associate Professor, Strategic Insight at OCADu and long time ideaBOOST mentor had this to say about the value of integrating design-based thinking into an organization's approach to problem solving and strategic foresight initiatives:

“Organizations intent on embracing design thinking processes may enjoy higher levels of creative thought and better decision making for their goals. The crucial key here, though, is ensuring that the conditions for high performance teams are also embraced in tandem. Unmanaged conflict is a killer to innovation. A lack of conflict is similarly damaging to a successful end result. Conflicts in knowledge, viewpoint and process can be leveraged for generative potential; this means keeping team members psychologically safe and empowered. This foundation is often overlooked in design thinking even though it supports the foundation, sincerity and sustainability of the process.”

User-centred design and innovation was made popular by companies like Apple and Ideo, which put the relationship between user and product at the centre of the design process – not the technology. Crediting Lanahan, Stein introduced the concept of Design Thinking as a) “the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem,” b) “creativity in the generation of insights and solutions,” and c) “rationality to analyze and fit solutions to context.”

The overarching takeaway for those not yet familiar with design-based thinking is, that many problems offer a unique opportunity for creative collaboration. By asking a diverse group of stakeholders the same questions, based on (human) desirability, (technical) feasibility and (economic) viability, you’ll get as many different answers – which is A GOOD THING. Then, by implementing a design thinking approach in order to distill the answer(s) i.e. by combining both divergent and convergent modes of thinking, you’ll arrive at a more holistic design solution – than if you gave the challenge to an isolated, homogenized group.

So, once again, we see that diversity breeds innovation - a simple truth, which, in these heady days of constant change, no company can afford to overlook.

Resources & Links

Harbinger Foundation

Suzanne Stein

Design Thinking

Design Research Techniques