An Introduction to Design Workshop for 180 Degrees Consulting

Strategic designers Mela Sogono and Tarra Van Amerongen share takeaways from a recent innovation workshop with 180 Degrees Consulting.

On 27 February, we conducted a Design in Innovation workshop as part of the BCG Sydney Social Impact and Charity Committee’s session on Digital Disruption. There were seventy participants from 180 Degrees Consulting, a student-run, not-for-profit consultancy that partners students with non-profit organisations. We gave students a taste of how a design-led approach can lead to improved outcomes. Since we only had one hour, we ran a series of fast-paced exercises to give them a hands-on experience of design in innovation, with a focus on user research, identifying insights, ideation, prototyping and testing.

Here are some of our takeaways from the workshop:

  • Context sets activities up for success. While describing the mechanics of a task is necessary, what is most valuable is understanding the why, when and how a task should be applied. Clearly articulating the purpose and highlighting what the designer is looking to gain from the activity helps guide the process.
  • Choose action over discussion. The participants learned by doing, with 70 percent of the time dedicated to activities. The limited amount of time for each activity (one to five minutes per task!) emphasises the bias towards action in this approach. There is no time to overthink, over-analyse or over-discuss.
  • Refine, refine, refine. As the students experienced, the bias to action can result in very “raw” outputs. This stresses the need for collaboration, testing and iteration to flesh out the idea.
  • Learn from people around you. Understanding the nuances of the approach comes from practice. For example, synthesising research requires a knowledge of different frameworks that distills findings into insights and selects the best one to guide future design. Collaboration with teammates leverages their insights and unique experiences.

Whilst people may be unable to apply the full design approach to their current projects, having a mindset of empathy, curiosity at uncovering insights, bias toward action, collaboration and continuous iteration are things we can all bring to our daily lives.

In fact, the students said they were immediately going to apply the tools they learned on the ground. One girl mentioned that she was going to employ the empathy interview to find out how to keep volunteers for the Red Cross to stay engaged longer-term. Another mentioned presenting drafts to their client earlier to receive feedback and co-create the solution instead of waiting until the end of the project to share a final document.

We loved the opportunity to share design with the wider community and enable students to help charities continue making a real difference in Australia.

BCG Digital Ventures invents, launches, and scales industry-disrupting new businesses with the world’s most influential companies.

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