For Organizers: What you need to know

What is the difference between the co:dify Design Thinking Boostcamp and similar formats offered on the market?

Over the past years, we have studied and experienced the strenghts and weaknesses of established formats from academic design thinking institutions as well as those run by consultants and other professionals (design thinking networks, agencies and companies). The co:dify Design Thinking Boostcamp is a best-of synthesis of these formats. Alongside with a hands-on focus, we offer additional in-depth background information and methodology reflection, which was often found lacking in the eyes of participants of other workshops.

All co:dify workshop moderators and coaches are designated experts in their domains. Each of them has in-depth knowledge in specific subjects (e.g. Management Trends, User and Design Research, Business Model Innovation, Service-dominant Logic, etc.) and has a minimum of four years experience in coaching, facilitation and moderation (our core member coaches all have 8+ years of experience).

The Boostcamp builds on our professional education experience as well as our longstanding research on design thinking at high-level institutions (Hasso Plattner Institut, Chalmers University of Technology). Beyond that, co:dify experts are in involved in knowledge exchange with the most successful companies and researchers in the field through advisory roles and research projects.

We have tried design thinking already. We did a bit of persona, we had some sticky notes. We don’t think that this is a serious approach.

We are very sorry that you have made such a bad experience. We know that there are substantial differences concerning the quality of the various available offerings. We are convinced that each workshop needs to be adjusted to the specific context and goals of our clients. To achieve an optimal fit, we conduct a structured briefing with each client before any assignment is taken. We assess factors such as innovation maturity, strategic goals and the specific business context. In some cases, this can lead to the realization that the Design Thinking Bosstcamp is not suitable and that other services or approaches might be needed instead. As transparency and honesty are central to our interaction with clients, we will recommend alternative services and solutions, even if that means that we won’t get to work together.

In case you have the need to have an in-depth talk about your innovation ambitions and design thinking’s role herein, feel free to contact us any time. We are happy to support you in your request.

Why do we need a special space for a design thinking workshop?

The spatial environment plays a major role in facilitating team collaboration and the evoking of new ways of working. Operating in established settings makes it hard for participants to immerse themselves in new working styles and mindsets, especially when a change of behavior and roles is essential. Hence, the ‘right environment’ is a central part of the learning experience. Furthermore, most meeting and conference rooms are equipped with a large conference table, which is not suitable for working actively in small teams.

From our long-standing experience with interactive workshop formats in many different spaces, settings and company cultures we know the parameters that make a ‘collaborative space’. To establish the right setting for your Design Thinking Boostcamp, we can either book a suitable space or support you in identifying and adapting your own facilities to suit these requirements.

Which questions and topics are suitable for the workshop?

In our experience, it is easier for participants to learn the methodology when they are working on a topic outside their subject area. When working in a subject area where they are experts in, participants tend to jump into concepts and solutions they already know, thus having difficulties to really empathize with customers needs. Hence we recommend a selection of tested workshop topics.

Here are some examples from our standard design challenges menu:

“Redesign the pet adoption experience”
“Redesign the grocery shopping and cooking experience”
“Redesign the ‘new to town’ experience”
“Redesign the ‘finding a flat’ experience”
“Redesign the ‘exercising and staying fit’ experience”
“Redesign the job orientation experience”
“Redesign the public transportation experience”
“Redesign the evening workout experience”

Alternatively we are happy to design a customized workshop topic informed by your requirements. Here, it is possible to develop a suitable problem challenge from almost any area of life. An essential precondition is that it focuses on creating value for your customer or user (it can be internal employees or B2B customers).

Questions like “How can we increase our sales by 3% in 2017?”, “How can we become a market leader?” or “How can we lower our costs?” are not suitable for design thinking workshops. Of course, each innovation initiative has the goal to find answers to those questions, yet in design thinking it is about discovering possibilities to create value for customers in the first place. It is only in further (iteration) steps that value propositions are translated into viable business cases which can contribute to the growth of sales or market shares.

Our employees are very experienced and they actually know our customers by heart. Do we really need to talk to customers?

We are aware of the legal concerns and the fear of ‘leaving a strange impression’ that field research might evoke amongst customers. However, the contact to customers is a basic prerequisite for any design thinking work. Don’t worry, you don’t need to call and interview customers from your CRM database. You can find interesting people – who will have lots of stories to tell – outside of your client base. We will gladly help you with the recruiting of suitable candidates. In addition, the identity of interviewees and your company name can stay anonymous, allowing your teams a stress-free interaction with potential customers.

Empathy for users is often confused with knowledge of past customer requirements. Here we observed countless times how renown experts found surprising and new insights when they viewed the topic from the customer’s point of view.

We need to develop an overall strategy for an existing business area or function (e.g. corporate marketing) until the end of the month. Can we do this using a design thinking workshop?

Even if we are convinced that our co:dify Design Thinking Boostcamp can be of great value in multiple regards, there are definitely limits to what can be achieved in a two to three day workshop. If the workshop goals are too ambitious, participants are likely to get overwhelmed, since they’re not only tackling a complex challenge but they also have to engage in a ‘completely new way’ of thinking and doing.

To guarantee the highest level of quality, the workshop challenge and the goal setting must be chosen appropriately. We always look after a realistic workload and achievable learning goals for our learning experiences. We are happy to assist you with the choice of a suitable problem challenge.

If a particular issue is still of top priority to you (above methodology training), we can offer you a customized Design Thinking Sprint. In a sprint, we focus less on building methodological/process competence. Here we rather push your team(s) into a productive working mode, to enable them to develop ideas and concepts that might solve your problem challenge at hand. If it is sprints that are of interest to you, please reach out to us for specific offers and a more detailed description.

We already have developed a new product, and we would like to include the user perspective a bit more now. Can we do this with design thinking?

Please contact us so we can talk about your specific case. What you are looking for is basically a testing for your product a.k.a. problem-solution- or even product-market-fit. A design thinking workshop isn’t necessarily the best way to go about such a challenge.

Many of the popular innovation approaches (like Lean Start-up or Agile Methods) do have intersections with design thinking, in terms of mindsets, tools and techniques. Yet, when working with design thinking, the focus is on discovering customer needs first in order to develop them into concepts and ideas that serve as the basis for product or service development. Thus it will be a case-by-case decision whether design thinking is a suitable approach for such problems at all.

We have our own, internal coaches (Design Thinking, Agile, Lean). Couldn’t they run the Design Thinking Boostcamp together with you?

We are committed to highest quality when it comes to theoretical knowledge foundations, instructional designs and coaching skills. We know that excellence in those areas can only be achieved through an appropriate education, lots of working experiences and an intrinsic motivation to push the limits of each one’s domain expertise. We therefore only work with coaches and facilitators who have a long standing reputation and whom we know from previous teamwork and / or whom we have educated on our own. Thus, we work with client coaches in standard formats only as a rare exception. What we do however, is developing in-house coaches in tailored train-the-trainer programs. Please contact us, if that is what you are looking for.

Will my employees be design thinking coaches after the Design Thinking Boostcamp?

We are getting asked this question a lot. The intensive training of the co:dify Design Thinking Boostcamp provides a first, enlightening glimpse into the design thinking methodology and how to work with it in practice. However, it is not a facilitators training and we want to emphasize that participating in any two or three day training cannot prepare people for being a design thinking coach. We know from educational research that two or three day workshops are limited insofar, as they can only provide basic knowledge and first practical experiments due to time constraints and the restricted cognitive abilities that we, as humans, face. We consider offerings that promise a design thinking coach certification (without prior experience) after a three day workshops as dubious.

We have a corporate event coming up, with 450 participants. Could you create a ‘design thinking event’ around that?

No. As we are specialized on in-depth, intensive education programs we do not offer such events formats. We value quality over quantity and usually restrict our co:dify workshops to a maximum of 36 participants.

However, we are aware that there are situations where methodological education is not the primary goal. For example, you may want your employees to explore basic aspects of design thinking in a playful way. In these instances we are happy to support you in identifying a suitable service provider from within our partner network.

This article is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Updated on March 20, 2018

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