My learning journey running a Design Thinking workshop (Remotely)

The pandemic has forced us to think differently when it comes to working from home. Here’s my journey that could get you started while kicking it from home!

5 min readNov 23, 2020
Illustration via Streamline Illustrations

In the last 4 weeks I had an amazing learning experience focused on the Design Thinking module at Hyper Island. With the opportunity of having Ross Chapman as our facilitator, his way of leading our class by using a Mural board and directly showing us hand-on how to run a workshop, was an eye-opener. Weekly we engaged deeply with the design thinking process and had incredible collaboration sessions using Zoom, brainstorming and learning team. I liked the workshop’s active approach, as learning by doing made the entire experience very fun. Still a week later, I am still wrapping my head around some of these concepts and reflecting on how I can integrate elements of design thinking into my workshop, and upcoming projects.

I will take you through the steps I went, how I found my problem statement, and from there how I created a workshop for a specific target group;

I have used the Customer Problem Template to find my Problem Statement. I wanted to solve a problem that directly applies to my learning journey at Hyper Island. Therefore, I chosen UX Designers as my target group. My class exists out of UX Designers, there was almost no better way to get this close to my target group.

Customer Problem Template

UX Designers always struggled with managing their time, mostly because they are working on more than 1 project at the same time. Yet, we still have a private life with hobbies and interests. It brought me to the idea to bring in musical instruments and the time it would take for a UX Designer to still be able to play and improve on any musical instrument.

Empathise & Define

“I am a UX Designer working as a freelancer, and working for a startup. I’m trying to play my instrument in my free time so I can make the music I love, but I can’t practise enough, because it takes me a at least 40 hours a week to focus on my job, which makes me feel overwhelmed.”

This problem statement brought me to the following “How might we..” which we will use as the Workshop theme. It is a way to frame your ideation, and often used for launching brainstorms.

How might we help UX Designers play their favourite musical instrument?

The Workshop

Music, we all love it! Music brings people together and becomes even more fun if you are part of the creation process. As UX Designers we are constantly trying to find inspiration but it also keeps our head spinning through the day. There goes your creative mind, starting to work against you.

Obviously there are many different ways to calm down your mind, one way to do this is to play an instrument. Let’s create a workshop to find out how UX Designers can use their musical intelligence and finding solutions to get motivation and time for an instrument.

How a winning team looks like - Illustration via Streamline Illustrations

A Design Thinking workshop teaches problem solving in action, giving the workshop participants an approach they can apply to almost any challenge in any area of their lives.

I wanted to make sure that the workshop have a deeper and higher meaning than just to have some fun. My basic idea designing the workshop, was to keep things simple and clean, and staying away from unnecesary distractions for the participants. We should keep our workshop’s goal in mind: Getting you started with your favourite instrument.

The key is finding the balance between not taking things so serious while at the same time working on valuable techniques and ways of thinking that can help solve complex problems: design thinking. Design thinking is a form of serious play. You want to teach people to not be afraid and play and show them the value of playing.

Introduction / check-in / food for thought

In the introduction phase, the facilitator will be sharing the agenda, explaining the challenge, the underlying objectives, and the deliverables to be produced. During the check-in, I put as a goal to energise the team with an icebreaker and get them to feel safe working together and collaborating, by directly applying the problem statement into practise.

After; I started sharing some content to inspire UX Designers, and showing some benefits of playing an instrument.

By now, everybody is at ease. Now we will be diving into the first activities. I wanted to know who is familiar with playing an instrument and if they are, what are their skills. I found it a very effective activity, because if you already have a few UX Designers that are playing an instrument, before you know it, they will be sharing where the problem is and where the solution might be.

I digged deeper into the problem by creating an activity based on “a day in the life of a UX Designer”. Knowing what a day of a UX Designer looks like, gets us closer to a possible solution.

The empathy map helps us to get a better view of what our participants feel, think, say and do. In this activity every participants uses their sticky notes to fill in the map. When this is done, we will go to our final activity.

Now our participants should have a clear understanding of the main problem and solutions should be rolling in now! There are no right or wrong answers, we want to make sure that all the ideas have been written down. We will place them in the matrix from Low success rate to high succes rate and decide as a team what might work.

Final word
Designing a workshop is and should be highly effective, because real world value examples of design thinking come into action. Even so, all of them will work better when run by an experienced design facilitator.

I have learned a lot in the past 4 weeks, and have so much more work to do, the learning will never stop when it comes to Design thinking. I’m already looking forward to create my next Workshop!