When I moved to Washington DC, one of the few people I knew was Wendi Chiong, a good friend from Stanford who is a co-organizer of a Meetup group called Design Thinking DC (DT:DC).
DT:DC’s mission is to bring together “people from business, design, technology … for radical collaboration on methodologies, practices and experiences to facilitate and deliver innovation in the world.”
Last week I got a crash course in design thinking as a participant in their 22nd Meetup: Co-Designing New Lecture and Talk Experiences
How Can We Innovate on the Lecture?
Design Thinking DC recently surpassed 1400 members, and they’re trying to figure out ways to adapt to their growing ranks. While people tend to prefer smaller events, with so many members, hosting only small group events means most people get shut out from actually attending.
So they did the brave thing and decided to apply design thinking principles to their own problem, and engage their community in solving the problem. In essentially a two-and-a-half hour session, they lead a group of ~50 people through a design challenge focused around creating better ways to engage large groups of people with DT:DC.
Setting the Scene
We all sat down in tables of 6-12 people with design packets that we would use to work through the exercises. The event was primarily led by Dawan Stanford, who’s the lead organizer at DT:DC. He started with an overview on the history of the group and how they started with smaller, hands-on design-oriented workshops. As the group has grown, it’s become harder to only do small group events – the meetups would fill up in hours, leaving many members high and dry.
On the other hand, they didn’t want to just revert to lecture-style events that are dry and passive. So the point of this event was to use design thinking to craft a better “Large Group Experience” (LGX).
There are a lot of definitions for Design Thinking, but I’d describe it as taking a customer facing mentality and a set of creative processes toward solving key business challenges. Wendi presented a framework developed at the Stanford d.school which goes:
Fortunately for us, they had prepared a lot of materials and a game plan so even if we were new to design thinking, we would still be able to jump right in. Continue reading