- Academy of Design Thinking
Design Thinking Facilitator: A Quick Guide to an Innovative World
A Design Thinking Facilitator is a design thinker who guides others through the design thinking process. A facilitator has to perform a wide range of tasks in order to smooth the path to the adoption of a design thinking mentality.
The ultimate goal of a design thinking facilitator is to guide a team from messy, complex challenges into clearly defined problems, tested solutions, and great outcomes.
A Quick Intro Into the World of a Facilitator
As a facilitator you should step in and lead a team at all times in activities such as Hackathons and Bootcamps; lead such a team through specific activities as part of a larger project. Some such projects include brainstorming, field research, gathering data, evaluating that data, mapping customer journeys, concepting, prototyping, testing with customers and stakeholders, creating blueprints and roadmaps.
Many times, a facilitator finds himself/herself in the midst of ambiguity, mess, chaos, and lack of clarity. To navigate through this, a design thinking facilitator should be able to balance his/her own thinking. In particular, a facilitator should move from critical to creative thinking in response to the situation, maintaining a positive approach even when faced with potential failure.
As in all situations, the best outcomes come from first knowing yourself and your mindset as a facilitator. What triggers your curiosity? How do you react when people bring a different point of view? How open are you to learn from everybody? Answering these questions is a good start to your journey as a design thinking facilitator. Eventually, with experience you will know that somehow things fall into place, “magic happens” and clarity emerges.
The Many Faces of a Design Thinking Facilitator
As a Design Thinking Facilitator you are the INNOVATION CATALYST and COACH as embodied in Tom Kelly’s 10 faces of innovation:
The Anthropologist: who observes, reads the signs, listens with ears and eyes, and tweaks the flow on the go;
The Director: who makes it easy for the team to try new paths, feel the excitement and move to the next stage;
The Collaborator: who keeps a constant flow of excitement and energy through a project team;
The Set Designer: who creates the stage where the action happens and where characters interact with one another;
The Caregiver: who notices when the energy is low and brings in the energisers, (the music, the games, the fruit and sweet supplies);
The Experience Architect: constantly designing experiences for every unique product or service;
The Hurdler: who pushes through obstacles by viewing problems as opportunities;
The Cross Pollinator: who understands the different languages of the Stakeholders;
The Experimenter: who loves to prototype and use what is available to physically represent their ideas in order to test them;
The Storyteller: who brings to life how we are using Design Thinking Innovation for great outcomes.
Essential Tasks of a Design Thinking Facilitator
Finally, let us outline some of the main tasks a design thinking facilitator has to perform to make things easier for people who participate in a facilitated discussion:
Support individuals within a group in understanding their common objectives.
Help people collectively move through a process.
Structure conversations and apply appropriate group facilitation techniques to keep discussions effective.
Foster participation and get people to come up with ideas, thoughts and perspectives that add value.
Get all individuals in the room to feel like they are in a group with a shared interest.