Moving beyond awareness building:
From Design Thinking to design doing

Our client, one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, came to us to help build their team’s Design Thinking capabilities beyond a basic understanding of theory and problem-framing. They had previously attended a series of engaging awareness workshops but found it difficult to act on their learnings in the real world. Our project challenge: “How might we design a corporate learning experience where theory and action are interdependently connected and build on each other?”

As a joined-up team, we embarked on a four-month Learn-By-Doing Innovation Project. The aim was to enable the client team to learn Design Thinking by executing design research and solution-finding work together with The Moment team. The project took shape primarily as a series of collaborative working sessions, supported by coaching, as the team worked on an actual challenge facing their internal client group. In this way, the lessons learned were profoundly incorporated and team members felt engaged and empowered.

We wanted to recognize the various ways in which different people approach learning and integrate new concepts and new ways of thinking into the project work. Based on the problem solving profiles of our learners, we focused heavily on applying theory through active experimentation and reflecting on what we could amplify for increased success, as well as uncovering opportunity areas for growth or change.

The team explored, refined, and applied design research tools to lead user interviews and conduct environmental observations in order to explore the values and motivations of their customers in a human-centred manner. They then gathered and synthesized the outputs of their research to feed the next phase of design work, which led them to design a portfolio of ideas that were ready for early validation. By the end of the project, the team had moved from Design Thinking to Design Doing — in learning to apply Design Thinking to real-world problems, they identified opportunity spaces to pursue, and felt enabled to produce actionable customer insights and imaginative prototypes.

The team is now capable and ready to take on their next design challenge with less outside support; they are able to design and execute a customer research plan, participate effectively in ideation sessions, and conceptualize and guide the design of early prototypes.

Team members were delighted with the experience of being involved in the Learn-By-Doing Innovation Project:

“I can now see the value of Design Thinking — it enables us to solve the right problems, instead of investing in products that don’t solve anyone’s problems.”
– Customer Team, Product Owner

“I am now comfortable to talk to real customers and want to include them earlier when we are trying to figure out what to work on. We should have done this sooner.”
– Client Team, Practitioner

“Before this project, I could only say the words about Design Thinking, now I can speak authentically and articulate what really needs to happen for this work to succeed.”
– Client Team, Director

“Our team is now confident to take on projects we wouldn’t have imagined taking on before!”
– Client Team, Manager

As a result of this engagement the financial institution is currently exploring an enterprise-wide program to transition employees who have participated in one-day Design Thinking awareness workshops to applying human-centred design concepts to their own daily work.