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My Introductory Experience To Design Thinking

One of the major initiatives for a growing organization is creating and implementing a company-wide Learning and Development program. Mindset has published authors, SAP Mentors, and technologists who are always learning and teaching. We also employ people early in their careers. So, the biggest challenge with creating a Learning and Development program for this team is how do we build a program that encompasses an audience from new hires to experts. DESIGN THINKING!!!!

What is Design Thinking?

  • Firstly, design thinking is a process for creative problem solving.
  • The process starts with taking action and understanding the right questions. It’s about embracing simple mindset shifts and tackling problems from a new direction.
  • Finally, in employing design thinking, you’re pulling together what’s desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows those who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.
-From the IDEO U Website 

Fortunately, I landed at a company where we have multiple Design Thinking experts, and collaboration is at the foundation of everything we do. However, ur own Dan Flesher answered the call to run a design thinking session for our Learning and Development initiative. Dan, myself, and a broad representation of Mindset employees gathered together for 4.5 hours over three days. However, of the participants, only a handful had participated in a design thinking session previously.

To start things off, Dan explained why implementing a Learning and Development program was necessary for the organization and to set some ground rules. Well, one ground rule: Any and all ideas are welcome!!

Step 1 Idea Generation 

Dan employed multiple tools for our session to gather ideas. We tried Lighting Talks, Headlines From the Future, Empathy Maps, and Past Experiences. At times we couldn’t get our ideas into our digital workspace fast enough, and at other times getting us to contribute was met with radio silence. Luckily, Dan is a highly competent facilitator and was able to keep us all engaged. The end result was a picture of everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas. These ideas weren’t fully baked yet but well on the way.

It is critical to mention that the User/Human experience was front and center throughout this entire process. We never lost sight of how this could benefit everyone involved.

Step 2 HMW (How Might We?) 

Taking the ideas from the Idea Generation stage we went through a process called How Might We?. This step was like giving everyone the ability to create the future. Further, each participant has the opportunity to take the major ideas and create a fictional end product. In our case, a Learning and Development Program. From this stage, the ideas became even more apparent, and we were able to establish themes.

Step 3 Prioritization

In this stage, we organized the themes into a priority map. Further, the organization now has a highly collaborative plan they can utilize in the creation of the Learning and Development program.

However, we still have work to do before we launch the program. We are significantly farther along and more aligned as a company for using Design Thinking.


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Matt Garland is an HR and Recruiting Professional. He has spent over ten years in the SAP space working with both consulting firms and staffing agencies. His passion is People. “I love helping people get a job and creating workplaces where those people can thrive.” His goal is to create workplaces where people can continuously learn, share ideas without fear, and do exciting work. Outside of work, Matt loves to spend time with his family and friends, cook, garden, fish, camp, hike, travel, see live music, exercise, and read.

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