Recently, Zachary Smith, our VP of Technology and co-founder of The Seattle Design Thinking and Innovation Collective was invited to teach a Design Thinking workshop at Cambia Grove. Launched earlier this year, Cambia Grove is a community-focused organization whose mission is to provide a space where innovators and entrepreneurs can work together to find inventive solutions to healthcare’s many challenges. Whether as practitioners or patients, most of us have firsthand experience with the existing difficulties in today’s healthcare system. This allows Cambia Grove to appeal to multiple disciplines, including technology, art, law, and science. Design Thinking can harness these varied personal experiences to spark innovation within the community.
A process which is best learned by doing, it can be difficult to constrict Design Thinking to a single definition. That being said, it is often described as a human process based around five action words: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. It focuses on problem finding as much as problem solving by encouraging people to observe users and empathize or experience the same problems the user is facing. By putting the user first we can gain a stronger understanding of their specific needs. Once able to define the user’s problem, Design Thinking shifts its focus to doing through rapid prototyping, testing and gathering feedback.
For the Cambia Grove workshop, participants worked through these intentions in pairs, redesigning their partner’s commute experience. Beginning with two sets of interviews, allowing for each person to share experiences, they next worked to define their partner’s problem based on needs, feelings, and observations they had gained. The participants were then tasked with generating ideas to be tested through a quick sketch session. Partners then shared these and gained feedback before setting out to build a prototype for their partner.
While this short 60 minute crash course centered on a seemingly small problem, the workshop encouraged participants to jump right in and learn the process of Design Thinking by doing and trying. Through the series of intentions practiced, it’s hoped that participants began to intuit how to utilize Design Thinking in their daily lives, personal and professional. The necessary transformation in healthcare requires curiosity and the ability to seek a real understanding of the problems being faced. Design Thinking is one tool that can help foster meaningful and functional innovation for problems both large and small. We’re thankful that Cambia Grove gave us the opportunity to introduce these concepts to them.
If you’re interested in learning more about Design Thinking techniques, we host The Seattle Design Thinking and Innovation Collective monthly. All are welcome.
Image from Flickr user Khalid Albaih