Presenting: CatalystsX, Our February Tune Up Project

Our first Tune Up for 2014 is coming up on Saturday, February 22. We are excited to grow our Tune Up community and have great news about our challenging February Tune Up project.

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Presenting: CatalystsX!

Cx is a community of people building a culture of personal & systems transformation towards a better future. Cx acts as a shared platform for change agents across Canada working towards transforming the future.

The February Tune Up project will explore the challenges of engaging and sustaining a network of social innovators across Canada, both online and offline.

Ready to start putting your design-thinking knowledge into action? Register here.


About Tune Up

Tune Up is hands-on design thinking applied to a real world wicked problem. Anchoring the conversation in reality, the workshop engages both an organization with an identified problem as well as individuals eager to practice and experience the design-thinking process. The ultimate goal for Tune Up is to expose both the organization and the designers to the design thinking process and facilitate collaborative learning.

Click here for more information on Tune Up.

Come practice with us.

Exhibit Change is a community of designers working to solve real world problems where they are happening. 

11419934165_5e4cb3e31e_zIn  our Design Thinking for Impact portfolio we are focused on working with individuals learning and practicing design thinking. We think that there are crucial lessons and principles that lend themselves to solving the complex problems that we face today. We offer a variety of workshops to keep you practicing, including Tune Up & DT4i.

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With Tune Up, we are working with organizations and individuals learning design thinking together. Individuals are practicing their design thinking skills on an organization’s real problem. The organization is exposed to fresh ideas, a new community to be accountable to and a slew of next steps to pursue. Tune Up is a 1 day workshop.
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In DT4i, we are working with individuals dedicated to practicing the process of design thinking in the safety of risk-free collaboration and coaching. The individuals attending DT4i workshops will get the opportunity to go through the design process twice to gain skills in user-centric approaches and prototyping. DT4i is a 2 day workshop.


Coming to our workshops, you will get a chance to:


[tab title=”DESIGN THINKING”]Thinking and solving problems using the design-thinking process means approaching a challenge through empathy, prototyping and iterating solutions. It is your opportunity to really spend time looking at the challenge from new and different perspectives.[/tab]
[tab title=”PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE”]The magic to design thinking is learning by doing, and doing it over and over again to learn from your own mistakes.[/tab]
[tab title=”OTHER BENEFITS”]

We promise you will be able to walk away with these experiences:

  • Hands-on & intensive collaboration with stakeholders
  • Safe space to test out ideas and assumptions
  • Intentional focus on balancing task and team dynamics
  • Bias towards action and prototyping concepts
  • Encourage active participation and roles for different leaders and champions




What to expect at each of our workshops:

All workshops can be customized to suit your needs. Interested in how we can bring our workshops to you and your group? Let’s chat!

Rapid-Fire Tune-Up DT4i Design Labs
Timing 2 to 3-hours workshop 1 day workshop 2 day workshop 3 to 5 days
# of Participants  12 – 30 designers One organization + 12 designers 12 – 20 designers 16 – 24 designers
Description Fast-paced facilitated introduction to design thinking, working collaboratively to solve a relatable wicked problem Working closely with an organization’s “how might we”, designers will practice design thinking on a real world wicked problem Designers will spend 2 days practicing the design thinking process twice to get a sense of iteration & ideation Immersive design thinking process, working through a wicked problem directed towards an implementation strategy
Suitable for
  • Introduction to Design Thinking
  • Team Building
  • Focus on Creative Problem Solving
  • Introduction to Co-designing Practicing Design Thinking with Users
  •  Focus on Empathy
  • Studio environment
  • Focus on human-centered solutions & prototyping
  •  Co-created solutions with stakeholders
  • Focus on empathetic collaboration & integrated feedback


Designing with Consequences: Reflections on Tune Up

Last week we hosted our first ever Tune Up with much success. Working with Equal Grounds, we were able to bring 11 Design Thinking practitioners together with 4 Equal Grounds team members to work collaboratively to unpack, explore and design potential services to deliver.

To help focus the group and maximize our collective work, the central question that was put forward by Equal Grounds was:

How do we create employment inclusion for people with disabilities?


Diving into the conversation, it was quickly obvious the effect of using a real-world problem was having on our designers. Unlike a typical DT4i training workshop where the focus is more on practising tools & processes in a sandbox environment, Tune Up is intentionally set up to challenge your assumptions;  both the stakeholder and designers are collaborating on prototype solutions as well as challenging each others biases in defining the actual problem.

In the morning, we definitely had to take the time for Equal Grounds’ team members to connect with designers, creating a safe space that paid recognition to mutual fears of failure, of saying the wrong thing or to individuals not having all the right answers. Without underscoring the importance of empathy in the design-thinking process, moving forward into defining the problem and designing solutions risked moving the focus towards the designers’ biases. Tune Up really is a workshop where you get a chance to design with very real consequences.

The empathy phase of the design-thinking process is an important step that in foundational in defining what is the actual problem instead of moving instinctively into defining solutions. Remaining in the problem longer allows you to figure out what you don’t know and what information you need to move forward. This may take more time upfront and can feel really messy at times, but by doing so, it will ensure whatever prototype that ends up being implemented is more likely to be relevant to a very important stakeholder: the user.


With our first Tune Up under our belt, we are excited for the next one happening in February. We learned a lot from the December 7 workshop, both in how to deliver a great Tune Up as well as the amazing value design thinking brings to real world, wicked problems.

If you want to know how you can get involved in the next Tune Up, stay posted in the new year for when we announce the next Tune Up project. In the meantime, make sure to sign up for our newsletter.


[section title=”ABOUT TUNE UP”]Tune Up is hands-on design thinking applied to a real world wicked problem. Anchoring the conversation in reality, the workshop engages both an organization with an identified problem as well as individuals eager to practice and experience the design-thinking process. The ultimate goal for Tune Up is to expose both the organization and the designers to the design thinking process and facilitate collaborative learning.



A Reflection on Design Lab 1 with GEM…

Just over a year ago I met Rochelle, the Founder and Executive Director of Girls E-Mentoring (GEM) and we started a discussion about what the GEM program would look like. After an initial conversation about what mentorship looked like and how it might look like for GEM, I posed a question about what GEM might look like if the girls who would ultimately be in the program designed it?

And so we begin…

“GEM’s mission is to mitigate the adverse effects of poverty through electronic mentorship. Our vision is to bridge a social divide between at-risk girls and high-achieving women to motivate the next generation of leaders, innovators and mothers to reach their full potential no matter where they started. “

11226534856_bf3b7dc83fIt all starts with empathy.

We hosted our first Design Lab with 18 girls at the Flemingdon Neighbourhood Services. This was our second time meeting the girls, but the first time we were really digging into figuring out what GEM might be. We spent a short amount of time doing a lot of work. The goal for first phase of the design process is to learn more about the people at the centre of GEM.

Design Lab 1 was intended to start exploring what the girls are interested in, know more about personalities in the room, aspirations and specifically pains and gains in the immediate and long term. Following the Design Lab, we met with GEM’s Advisors to further dive into some of the themes that are coming up and were met with some design challenges coming from the perspectives of mentees and potential mentors. This is a great reminder of why we are actually doing this. The design process is revealing the elements that we need to spend more time thinking about.


Moving forward from Design Lab 1 and the Advisors’ meeting, we will be spending time unpacking all the insights and trying to gain clarity moving into Design Lab 2 in February.

All this to say, we are still learning and that is why this is so much fun!





Presenting: Equal Grounds! Our December Tune Up Project.

We’re really excited for our Tune Up workshop this Saturday. We have a full room of designers ready to dive into an interesting project with some serious problem solving.

Presenting: Equal Grounds!

The organization coming in for a design-thinking Tune Up is Equal Grounds. An inspiring initiative and new start up, Equal Grounds aims to be a social enterprise dedicated to providing professional services to clients by creating opportunities for people of different abilities. Equal Grounds primary goal is to create employment inclusion in all industries and sectors, especially for those who are differently abled.

This Saturday’s Tune Up will definitely be an engaging workshop where Exhibit Change and the designers in the room will help push Equal Grounds closer to answering what a program for employment inclusion looks like for people with physical disabilities.

Interested in attending this workshop or the next Tune Up? Ready to start putting your design-thinking knowledge into action? Register here.


[section title=”ABOUT TUNE UP”]

Tune Up is hands-on design thinking applied to a real world wicked problem. Anchoring the conversation in reality, the workshop engages both an organization with an identified problem as well as individuals eager to practice and experience the design-thinking process. The ultimate goal for Tune Up is to expose both the organization and the designers to the design thinking process and facilitate collaborative learning.

Click here for more information on Tune Up.



Heads Up! Tune Up!

We are excited to be launching a new initiative called Tune Up!

Tune Up is hands-on design thinking applied to a real world wicked problem. 

Lately, we’ve been meeting so many individuals and organizations looking to get a bigger taste of design thinking in safe place to practice the cool tools and techniques. Which got us thinking:  how might we provide a great experience for what the design-thinking process is really like in action? And voila! Tune Up was born!


[section title=”INDIVIDUALS”]Tune Up is a great opportunity to put design thinking into practice on a real world wicked problem. Leading up to as well as during the workshop, a featured organization will provide you with some research and context to guide you as you tackle the day’s design challenge with our other Tune Up designers. Very much in the spirit of co-creation and human-centred design, this is a great change to work on articulating your unique perspectives and deliver an action-oriented plan that will definitely have real-world consequences. [/section]
[section title=”ORGANIZATIONS”]Tune Up is a great way to shed some light on a challenge you and your team are facing by bringing to forward to a room full of eager design-thinking practitioners. With your team of 4, you get a change to frame the design challenge for the day as well as be present and part of the conversations to provoke the Tune Up designers into prototyping potential approaches. [/section]


The ultimate goal for Tune Up is to expose both the organization and the designers to the design thinking process and facilitate collaborative learning.

The first Tune Up is happening on December 7, 2013. We plan on hosting a Tune Up with a new feature organization every 3-4 months.

Want to know how you or your team can get involved in Tune Up? We would love to hear from you!


ELNStudio & Design Driven Community Engagement


This Saturday the Exhibit Change team, Jenn, Nisha and Clara will have a great opportunity to help infuse design-driven community engagement into the many conversations happening at CivicAction’s 2013 Emerging Leaders Network Studio (ELNStudio).

We’re really excited to be part of this year’s event! ELNStudio has grown over the years to become a signature event for emerging leaders across all sectors and industries to come together, connect around the issues facing our region, and work out a plan to take action. This year’s Studio will focus on job creation and economic opportunities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and is shaping up to be an event not to be missed.


As the facilitator team for the Local Economic Development and Micro-Entrepreneurism topic, Exhibit Change will be brining our design-driven community engagement approach to help drive the delegates’ conversations into action during and after the November 2nd event.



Design-driven community engagement is a method of imagining what is possible, seeing things from a different point of view and being led by the power of the question.

The facilitation for ELNStudio was designed specifically with the intention of getting ideas to action. The facilitators have crafted a process that will evoke new perspectives, honour the multiple and diverse voices in the room and generate ways for participants to plug in their experiences and value. The approach comes together from our multitude of backgrounds including design thinking, Art of Hosting, business thinking and strategic foresight to name a few. Together, this process is meant to create a container for all the background ideas, visions and passions coming from the ELN community. [/section]

[section title=”SO WHAT?”]The impact of this facilitation method is to encourage leadership to emerge within the groups, and for the solutions to be human-centred and striving to influence systemic change. [/section]

ELNStudio is about creating space for innovators and initiators to take on their natural roles as change-makers, working together to build an action-centric team to foster and promote provocative disruptions.

We are confident that the facilitation will build a foundation for an action-oriented conversation, fueled by all the great minds in the room and develop to support the instigators who emerge as leaders of projects.



It ‘s important to highlight that this conversation won’t happen again with this exact group of people, or with the exact constraints and thinking; the facilitation process lets us not miss any opportunity to get the most value out of November 2nd.

We also only have one day to forge ahead. The design-driven community engagement approach will help us to figure out what conversations are already happening and which ideas have started to take root and collectively push us towards the next iteration.

Sounds like fun? Then be sure to join us on Saturday, November 2nd! Register for the event now or follow along on Twitter this November 2nd @elnonline 


Yes, and! EdCamp Design Thinking

On October 5, the first ever EdCamp Design Thinking happened at Bitmakers Lab in Toronto, Ontario. This was an opportunity for a group of educators, designers, entrepreneurs and learners to talk about “how might design thinking impact the future of education?” The day was rooted in participant-driven conversation, framed on design thinking with a distinct focus on taking questions to action.


In 2009, EdCamps were born out of the movement to “take back PD” in Philadelphia by a group of educators who were frustrated with mandated professional development and wanted to connect with educators to talk about what mattered to them. By their very nature of being an unconference, EdCamps are a platform for vibrant conversation and generate boatloads of inspiration and enthusiasm for the face-to-face participants and the ones following in the Twitter back channel. EdCamp Design Thinking was no different and intentionally gave participants a bias towards action. As the organizing committee, we wanted to balance the space for participants to lead conversation and to demonstrate a bit of the design thinking process. Participants were taken through “The Six Phases of Design Thinking” from the Henry Ford Learning Institute and the “Design Thinking Oreo Cookie” exercise from Exhibit Change to get a taste of what design thinking is about. This set up participants for the conversations that followed.


To build energy and a sense of what people were already talked about, the group was led through World Café. World Café is designed to encourage the kinds of conversations we have at cafes; the ones that we can’t pull ourselves away from and are fueled by caffeine and passion. In World Café participants moved to another table to connect with new people, all together everyone would have talked to 7 new people within 40 minutes and together are revealing the themes and patterns within the room. World Café is a tool to leverage the conversation that is happening now; the same group of people will never be in the same place and same time together again. In World Café, participants explored 2 big questions and then summarized the big ideas.  The questions were open-ended and designed to prompt conversation, participants were in charge of where the conversation went from there.


Following World Café, participants proposed their own session for Open Space. Open space is designed to have participants with something on their mind a time and place to discuss with others who might be thinking something similar. The topics ranged from “How to Assess the Process versus the Product?” to “How to create a culture of risk and failure?” to “How do we engage the Ministry of Education in redesigning EQAO for special education students?” – each question arose from the participants who didn’t know how to tackle these challenges alone and wanted to talk to others.


After a morning of fruitful conversations, the group had Salad Club. Salad Club is a collaborative and participant-driven way to bring lunch together in a beautiful and spontaneous way that can only happen that way once, much like a World Café. Everyone was asked to bring one fruit or vegetable and one protein and together we compiled a lovely salad bar that was suited to all dietary constraints. It is always magical to watch how easily Salad Club can come together and the variety that is created. It is really a wonderful metaphor for trusting people to bring what they can to fuel others; we are more together than we are apart.

The afternoon began with an energizer called “Yes, and!” This activity is meant to generate a positive ideas environment. We are so used to hearing someone’s idea and then saying, “yes, but…” “Yes, and!” let’s everyone feel like they are contributing, like their ideas are actually being heard and eliminates the feeling that one idea is the solution. This activity led us into the afternoon of more Open Space conversations.


I left the day feeling like a lot of seeds had been planted for deeper discussion. For some people this was their first EdCamp or their first introduction to design thinking and in some cases both, so I anticipate that it was a lot to digest. EdCamp Design Thinking was a taster of what design thinking could be like in education and I hope that after a bit of time to reflect that the ones eager for their next taste will reach out to see what’s next in their journey.The group was a little slow to pick up on ideas, many excited to carry on conversations that started in the morning and a few that wanted time to connect around new ideas. The afternoon passed quickly with some more action-oriented discussion of how might we apply design thinking in schools, education, for our own practice and learn from places where it is already happening. We closed the day with a circle and a symbolic simultaneous clap to indicate that we were on the same page.

I imagine that as we keep doing EdCamp Design Thinking that it will take on its own momentum and begin generating the conversations that will propel design thinking to the places that it needs to be.


It is always a delight when the conversation keeps going and other perspectives are shared, you can find a bit more out about the day from these archives of the day.

Tweet Archive of the Day – Storify

Richland Academy – Experiencing Design Thinking Ed Camp

Heidi Siwak – Class 61 begins inquiry world café

Communication, Communication, Yes, and….

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Learning at //fuse 13


Over 2 days, 100 educators from 10 different States gathered together at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, Georgia for an intensive design thinking workshop.

The design challenge: How might we improve the first week of school? 

Earlier this year, at EduCon in Philly, I had the opportunity to connect to two amazing educators who are just as enamoured with design thinking as we are. Mary Cantwell is the coordinator for the Centre for Design Thinking at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and Greg Bamford is the co-founder of Leading is Learning, these two made me feel more than welcome as part of the facilitation team.


What is Fuse? “Fuse is the circuit that sparks new action. It’s the fusion of two people working together to make something new.” Together, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and Leading is Learning created a jam-packed two day adventure to bring educators through the process of design thinking and the task and maintenance of team work. It was a lovely blend of learning the complex process of solving for wicked problems while navigating the complexity of working with people you don’t know on wicked problems. It honoured the fact that as learners, we are used to a certain level of comfort and in this case we were purposely putting you in an uncomfortable space.

As part of the facilitation team, I got to learn and share with a team who are practicing and doing everything they can to spread design thinking throughout education and to co-facilitate with Scott Sanchez, Stanford d. school instructor was simply phenomenal. I am thankful for Mount Vernon’s open and collaborative approach to //Fuse. It was clear that we were learning together and that we were all facing similar challenges that we didn’t have the answers to. I specifically remember our facilitation meeting after the first day and the time we spent going over the participants experience, the iterations we need to make to build their learning experience and our reflections as a team and as individual facilitators.


I was honoured to be a co-facilitator of the Empathize phase. At Mount Vernon, they have adapted the design thinking process to work for their whole school. They use D.E.E.P – discover, empathize, experiment, produce. Empathize is the phase where they get to know their user. It is hugely important that participants make the shift of seeing themselves as users towards seeing themselves as designers. This is the part that I find most people struggle with and the fog continues as you move into defining your “Point of View” and coming up with your own “How Might We”. Together with figuring out your team, going through the process while trying to connect and relate to your design challenge; this is the combination for a tiring day 1 and I am always grateful when everyone still shows up for day 2.

Being part of //Fuse was seriously so rewarding. To see a school that has embraced design thinking for nearly 5 years, go to Georgia to meet fellow #dtk12 educators and really get to build a lasting bond.



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