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  • October 8, 2021
    9:00 am - 11:00 am


Design thinking provides a collaborative approach for deeply understanding service recipients’ needs. It arose to provide human-centered solutions through a deep focus on user needs and empathy. This unique facilitation process also provides a powerful method for transforming service delivery.

As organizations respond to ongoing turbulence, design thinking offers a structure for purposeful designing for the user. You can use it to help stakeholders imagine services from the perspective of the person who experiences the services.

In this basic introduction, we’ll give you a foundational knowledge of design thinking processes and hands-on experience with empathy-based understanding. We use a modified version of the Designing for Growth model:

  1. What Challenge?
    – Scope the Problem or Opportunity
  2. What Is?
    – Research the Space
    – Empathize with Users
  3. What If?
    – Brainstorm Solutions
    – Develop Concepts for Consideration
  4. What Wows?
    – Test Assumptions
    – Prototype Rapidly
  5. What Works?
    – Co-Create with Users
    – Launch a Learning Experiment

For the What Is? cycle, you’ll practice developing a human-centered perspective using empathy-based interviewing. In addition, we provide an overview and discussion about the other parts of the Design Thinking process.


Goals for Session

You’ll gain introductory knowledge and basic skills about how you might use design thinking to address an actual organizational challenge. By the conclusion of the session, you should:

  1. Understand the basics of design thinking and human-centered design
  2. Experience parts of the design thinking process in a small group
  3. Identify opportunities for using this process after the training


During this fast-paced session, you’ll learn:

  1. Why? Design Thinking Versus Other Problem-Solving Tools
  2. What? Design Thinking Looks Like
  3. How? To Get Started

Comments from Past Participants

“This class gave me a new way of thinking about how to engage and get input from our customers. The length of the class worked well for me and it’s one of the best trainings I’ve been to in a long time.”
—Past Participant

“One of my main take-aways was to not getting focused on solution too soon.  This provides space to empathize with the user and build a solution that meets their needs.  That’s something I can immediately take-away and implement.”
—Past Participant  


Technology Requirements

We will use Zoom and a variety of online tools. Restrictive organizational firewalls may be a problem. Before the session, we’ll send a list of tools that you’ll need to access.

To encourage active learning, we’ve planned a dynamic learning experience. We ask that you engage for each session, using both audio and video.


Rod Githens, PhD – Rod has led innovation processes for the last 15 years as an internal and external facilitator.  He began using design thinking in 2015 and successfully led the creation of a new set of academic programs using design thinking as a core methodology.  Eventually, he became Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Innovation, facilitating these processes throughout his school at University of the Pacific.  Currently, he teaches innovation and organization change as the Alexandra Greene Ottesen Endowed Chair.  Rod has also owned a consulting business since 2011, Githens and Associates. With a team of colleagues, he helps organizations serve their customers at levels they didn’t realize were possible through innovation, design, and strategy.

Shelby Pierce – Shelby helps groups and organizations that traditionally met in person to create meaningful and productive online experiences. Prior to becoming a full-time facilitator, she had 10 years of experience in the financial services and healthcare sectors. Shelby has a rich background in community organizing and serves on the executive committee for several nonprofit boards. Since the start of the pandemic, she has worked with over 40 different groups around the world, ranging from local community initiatives and nonprofits to nationwide groups including healthcare, government, education, and international development.




Requires internet connected computer.  Headsets are preferred. Call in number will be available for those without headsets.