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Participants Get Creative at Design Thinking Training

Published: April 5, 2016

At all levels of social service sectors, people are searching for ways to have an impact. The standard ways of doing things can inhibit innovative ideas that could make a difference in our work. Recognizing this dilemma, FYSB's Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) Program introduced grantees to Design Thinking, a systematic approach to breaking out of our comfort zones and designing creative solutions to everyday problems. On February 17th and 18th, 57 individuals representing APP grantees participated in a topical training on Design Thinking in San Antonio, Texas.

FYSB was elated that Jeanne Liedtka, a University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor, accepted the invitation to present on this topic. Liedtka has taught Design Thinking to businesses and graduate students for years and currently focuses on applying the approach in the social sector. On the first day of the training, participants received a copy of Liedtka's field guide, a highly engaging introduction to design thinking, and vivid example of the value of the approach through a story about a food service for seniors called The Good Kitchen. By the end of the day, participants had gained an understanding of how to apply the phases of design thinking as well as the specific tools, including observation, interviewing, job to be done, journey mapping, and personas.

On the second day of training, small groups of grantees participated in hands-on sessions, each focused on a common challenge that APP grantees experience:

  • Engaging community stakeholders to support sustainable implementation of programs
  • Managing APP programs, sub-awardees, and partners to ensure high quality implementation
  • Engaging youth in APP program sessions

With the facilitation of the PREP Training and Technical Assistance Team and Liedtka, grantees worked diligently to identify the what is, what if, what wows, and what works to tackle their challenge. They generated nearly a hundred sticky notes of ideas and presented their designed solution through a storyboard.

Design Thinking can improve APP programming by understanding and addressing the needs and desires of grantees' stakeholders. Because the full process can be time- and resource-intensive, Liedtka recommends that grantees adopt the phases and tools that work for them. Typically, Liedtka teaches this approach to graduate students over the course of eight weeks, not just two days. She encouraged participants not to be overwhelmed, but to be curious and consider the training an introduction to a new way of approaching problems and conversations with their peers and stakeholders.

Want to learn more about Design Thinking and how to apply the tools to your challenges? Check out Liedtka’s field guide, The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step-by-Step Project Guide.

Last Reviewed: April 6, 2016

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