March Break Career Exploration: Rapid Fire DT4i

After last week’s 2-day DT4i training workshop, we dove right back into workshop mode with the amazing youth from Success Beyond Limits (SBL) last Wednesday. As part of SBL’s March Break Career Exploration, our DT4i rapid fire workshop sought to connect the topic of youth entrepreneurship with the benefits of the design-thinking process.


Condensing two days of content into one afternoon, we weren’t sure what to expect as we moved 45 youth through the phases of the design-thinking process.

We really wanted to show the benefits of why teams should spend more time in the problem defining phase before moving into the problem solving phase. The key is understanding how best to use empathy in articulating your user needs, a true foundation for human-centred design.


It would be an understatement to say that the youth from Success Beyond Limits showed no end to generating new ideas. We were also impressed with how easily the youth could craft unique and detailed “point of views” or POVS through their user experience maps.


The ability to zone in on a specific user stood out in contrast to the other workshop earlier in the week. What we realized was the key difference between our two workshop groups was the youth’s ability to freely design for a specific user.

Professional experience, it seems, drives people towards designing one solution for everyone so no one is excluded. While this might sound logical at first glance, in the end these solution more often than not are solution that don’t work for anyone.


Another impressive feat the SBL youth demonstrated was the lack of fear in focusing on the process versus focusing on the final product. Rather, the youth were quite comfortable to concentrate on the design tensions that revealed themselves from the crafted user POVs. The end result was a whole suite of very creative solutions that started off with exploring the design challenge of ice cream & social enterprise. Proposed projects included designing service robots for seniors, mobile app ideas, outlining ethical farming practices and developing a new approach to manufacture ice cream.


What we learned from SBL’s freedom to focus on the process over the product is our need to highlight and push working professionals to give themselves permission to be uncomfortable and vulnerable in the design-thinking process.  The longer term advantage is the ability to creatively come up with new solutions to wicked problems. Otherwise, focusing on the product or “end goal” allows you to fall into the pattern of trying to solve new problems with the feasible solutions you already know.


Professional Development – Design Thinking for Impact Workshop | August 22 & 23

Design Thinking For Impact 

This will be a 2 day training on the design thinking process and working for social impact. Over the course of two days, participants will get the opportunity to learn design thinking, practice the process and to work with others on how they are bringing it back to their work places.


Participants can expect a hands-on experience for building an understanding of design thinking, learning to work together to build new ideas and get the opportunity to navigate some of the uncertainty of working with complex challenges.

Together, participants will:

  • explore a wicked problem
  • be able to tackle deepening of empathy
  • defining the questions we ask
  • creating valuable solutions
  • testing out assumptions in an iterative process


Who should come to Design Thinking for Impact?

Individuals working to make a difference. Participants coming from a diversity of backgrounds will learn how unusual collaborations can lead to innovative solutions. This workshop is for participants eager to gain knowledge about design thinking and how it can be applied to their work. Learn the methodologies, mindset and process of iteration, prototyping, empathy and problem-framing.

Logistic Details:

August 22 – 23 9am – 5pm
Centre for Social Innovation
720 Bathurst Street
Meeting Room #1 (2nd Floor)

Exhibit Change has recently been doing design thinking workshops at Glen Shields Public School, read more here “How might we bring design thinking to Glen Shields Public School?” 


Virtual Crash Course

Stanford’s & IDEO Founder David Kelley on Design Thinking video

IDEO Human Centred Design Toolkit 

Parkdale Garden Design Charrette

This past weekend Exhibit Change hosted the Parkdale Garden Design Charrette in partnership with the Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area and Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation. Both organizations are dedicated to the beautification and development of the Parkdale neighbourhood.  I planned an activity filled afternoon of design-driven community engagement for the community members of Parkdale.  The event hosted a diverse group of community members – youth, BIA board members and staff, community garden workers, residents, and a politician.

The icebreaker activity began the discussion of “What is Design Thinking and Playful Curiosity?” Participants learned that they already know about design thinking and playful curiosity. Design thinking is a process that is engrained in each of us; we all have our individual methods. Playful curiosity is the opportunity to remember that there are unlimited potentials and that true discovery happens when we don’t put any boundaries on our imagination. The participants demonstrated design thinking and playful curiosity by eating Oreo cookies and sharing their processes with each other. It was entertaining to watch all the different cookie eating techniques, one bite stuffers, multi-bite nibblers or split & lickers.

I asked the group to think about “What is a garden?” and to create a collage of images and words to show the collective expression of feelings and all the potential a garden has.  I was especially impressed with the youth’s mango and banana trees that they wanted in the gardens.  It was inspiring to see all the great ideas and the fun continued. Then we moved to 3D garden creations. The youth kept their fruit theme up with very realistic replica playdoh banana, strawberry and tomato. The others talked about big sunflowers, keeping the existing trees and  putting benches back into Parkdale among other great ideas.

Finally, we did an Action Mind Map which allowed everyone to talk about what the garden needs to survive and thrive. It was very touching that everyone wanted to contribute their time and do what they can for the future of the gardens.

The charrette was a public design workshop, which was held on May 15th, 2010 at the Masaryk Cowan community center at 1pm to 4pm, 13 people attended. The 13 participants were a diverse section of the community and represented many generations, ethnicities, genders, professions, commitment to the community and multi-disciplinary perspectives.

Finally, the participants all gathered for a group discussion “What does a garden need to thrive?”  Each participant had a stack of post-it notes and they started putting their suggestions up on the way, creating a mind map of action items that needed to happen for the gardens to make it. This collective effort showed that the gardens need a healthy dose of time, energy, resources – both financial and plant materials, people, love, sunshine, volunteers, ideas, spread the word, respect, it was certainly a great start to the conversation. Then each participant made a commitment in “How do you Exhibit Change?” by taking at least one action item off the board. This is the start to the community input.

Overall, I was certainly pleased with the imagination, design thinking and playful curiosity and the hot pink pipe cleaners were an added bonus.