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Steps to Carry out a Successful Design Thinking Workshop

Design Thinking workshops are gaining popularity due to being interesting as well as informative and fun. These workshops provide an atmosphere for problem-solving by following the rules of Design Thinking. These workshops constitute several activities that provide a solid ground for co-creation, collaboration, and team effort. A Design Thinking workshop can be used to achieve problem-solving, creativity, generation of unique ideas and team building, etc. Overall, Design Thinking workshops focus on empathy, ideation, problem-solving, experimenting, prototyping, and testing. You might ask but how do I run a successful Design Thinking Workshop? We have you covered. Following is a compilation of a few steps that are essential to carry out a successful Design Thinking workshop!

Planning and Preparation

Planning and preparation are the first and the most important stage of a Design Thinking Workshop. You need to plan the agenda of the workshop as well as confirm the location (remote or in-person). You must also plan the interactive activities depending on the goal of the workshop. For example, you might plan this workshop to strengthen the team. In that case, you should include team-building exercises and activities which involve maximum interaction.

1. Agenda Planning

It is important that you define your objectives clearly in your agenda and that your agenda is brief and concise. Do not use heavy phrases, keep it simple and understandable. The same is true for the workshop in general. A Design Thinking workshop should be activity-based and thus you should avoid heavy presentations.

2. Location Planning

The location should be chosen according to the nature of the Design Thinking workshop. You might want participants to work in small groups which means that you might need round tables to avoid distractions for small groups. You may decide to hold this workshop virtually which is perfectly fine. But in this case, you must familiarize yourself with the software that you might use such as zoom or google meet, etc.

3. Supplies Planning

One important thing to plan is the possible need for supplies to carry out the interactive activities such as sketch paper, sticky notes, whiteboard, post-it notes, round table, interactive software (Kahoot/Miro/Aha Slides, etc).


Execution is the stage where most activities happen in a Design Thinking workshop. Following are some important steps that must be taken in the execution stage!

1. Introduction

To introduce a Design Thinking workshop, you must discuss the following topics:

- Participant Introduction

- Brief Introduction of Design Thinking (Depends on the Content of Workshop)

- Objectives and Goals of the workshop

- Schedule of the workshop

- Sitting Orientation/Information regarding breakout rooms

2. Icebreaker

The icebreaker activity is the fun part of the Design Thinking workshop. This helps the team getting comfortable in speaking up, sharing their opinion, and team building in general. Icebreaker activity is also a great way to learn more about fellow participants than just a name. You can choose to have one or several icebreaker activities. Following is a brief description of some icebreaker activities for your reference:

- Hot Seat

In this icebreaker activity, one person is made to sit on a hot seat (meaning this one person is selected as a target). Then, everyone else may ask that person questions and that person is supposed to answer depending on comfort level. One important thing here is to keep the balance and not let the questions become too personal.

- One Truth, Two Lies

A fairly simple and easy technique where you tell one truth and two lies about yourself and everyone else must guess which is a lie and which is a truth. This technique is useful where participants want to learn about each other.

- One Word

This technique is good for generating meaningful discussions among teams. You may assign one question to different teams and they have to discuss it extensively before answering the question through one word only.

3. Defining Problem Statement

Defining a problem statement might turn out to be difficult at this point but is essential to include different perspectives. You must define the problem statement before ideating to narrow down your options. You can choose to use different techniques for defining the problem statement such as discussing alternatives, unintended consequences, or answering ‘how we might’ questions.

4. Ideating

Ideation is the main step of a Design Thinking Workshop. To ideate, you may use different techniques such as five whys, crazy 8’s, brainstorming, mission impossible and mashup, etc. But you must go through three main steps of ideation during a Design Thinking workshop mentioned as follows:

- Developing Ideas

- Sharing Ideas

- Refining Ideas

The chosen ideation techniques may also depend on the type of problem as well as the objectives of the workshop. You might want to prioritize the collaboration between participants and thus choose an ideation technique that empowers co-creation.

5. Developing User Journey Map

After deciding on a solution the teams must put themselves in the user’s shoes and develop a user journey map. In this activity, a detailed map of the steps or phases a user might go through is created and the solution is accessed through this map considering how feasible or attractive that solution is from a user’s perspective.

6. Testing

This step requires the participants to sketch the steps of a user journey map that was previously developed. This stage reflects the functionality of the solution and encourages participants to point out the main pain points where the solution might need some adjustments.

7. Debriefing

The last stage of the Design Thinking workshop includes debriefing the participants. Debriefing must include discussions, questions, reflections, future planning, and understanding of Design Thinking as well as the problem at hand.

Do you want to learn more about Design Thinking practices? Or would you like to know how design thinking might impact your team? If yes then visit our other blog:

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