Introduction to facilitating Design Thinking

Run correctly this creative process will bring out desired behaviours in the individuals taking part. These behaviours will initially be reactions against the process, aggressively defending the way they have been taught to think since childhood. Support and encouragement from the facilitators, rather than correction will allow the participants to see the benefit and strengths of the new process and will quickly engage at a higher level.

As each phase of the creative process comes to an end and the next one begins, participants will instantly revert to their prior learned behaviour and will need to be pulled back into team centred, divergent thinking. Allow mini cycles of divergent—convergent thinking in the initial stages as the participants get comfortable but steer them away from reliance over time.

Contrary to common educational practice, students learn from what they experience and not from what they are told. Facilitators/Managers of the process need to stay focused on the bigger picture and not allow themselves to get stuck in details that may seem important in the moment but run against the overall experience of the participant. Consistency across the whole delivery team is vital and gives the participants clear indications of what they boundaries are.

In instances where specific learning outcomes need to be met, care will need to be taken in the correct construction of the brief so they are achieved naturally. Telling participants what the learning outcomes are before or during the process will prevent them from embracing the creative process and developing truly innovative work.

Creativity and innovation is only successful if the environment supports it. Cultural and personal conditioning needs to be acknowledged early. If the company, institution, course or session doesn’t adapt to the needs of the processes of innovation and the creative individual neither will exist in any meaningful way.
Facilitators/managers supply the environment and tools required, but need to trust those involved and the process to deliver unexpected results. Contributions by those overseeing the sessions only guide the process and avoid contribution or deliberate steering.

The physical environment in which the creative process takes place is very flexible and often takes many forms. What is vital is that the space provided is allowed be covered from head to toe in the inspirations, illustrations diagrams etc. gathered during the each of the creative process phases described below. Where clear walls are not available, painted 8×4 MDF boards should be made available. A team of four participants would be expected to fill between 4 & 6 of these boards in the development of their brief.

Supplies should be freely available and plentiful. Sharpies, Letraset TRIO or Pro markers, Postits of all shapes colours and sizes, plasticine, glue and coloured paper; including white.