My journey to Ireland started at a boot camp

By Lucy Schachter

Last winter, I had the pleasure of co-coaching a Design Thinking Boot Camp at the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin, with coaches and participants from all over the US and Europe.

While brainstorming about the boot camp’s focus, we were inspired by the rampant holiday shopping going on around us. We decided to address something that was on many of our minds: the lasting impact shopping has on the world. That led us to kick off the boot camp with our “How Might We” question: “How might we encourage consumers to spend in ways that serve the greater good?”

Day One

Charged with an ambiguous problem to address, our teams started their empathy gathering by talking to four subject matter experts from across Ireland to learn a bit more about the problem space. After they got their feet wet with the expert interviews, team members hit the streets of Dublin to conduct intercept-interviews with people about their spending habits. They spoke to dozens of people in central Dublin at downtown shopping areas, financial centers, and college campuses.

After hearing about the challenges people face when making sustainable spending choices, the teams reconvened at the theater to swap stories and finish up Day One. Teams “unpacked” their interviews into empathy maps and created problem statements. Finally, they prepared “How Might We” (HMW) statements for ideation.

Day Two

Day Two started with one of my favorite stokes—a rock, paper, scissors tournament! Once the group was geared up, we gathered back into our teams and went straight into ideation using our HMW questions. Armed with concepts, the selected teams were ready to start prototyping.

Before the teams started, the coaches threw the boot camp participants a challenge: make every prototype to scale. Teams took this challenge to heart, and soon the whole room was full of foam-core storefronts and cardboard box shopping carts. The teams couldn’t wait to test their prototypes with the rest of the group. They had the chance to do three rounds of testing, with time to iterate their prototype in between each round. The cardboard and pipe cleaners were flying at every chance the teams had to tweak their designs.

After the action was done, we did an extensive debrief and ended by hearing an “I like, I wish, I wonder, I will” from each participant. They all left with not just ideas of how to spend more responsibly, but also to see the benefits of design thinking.

Results

The boot camp was a great introduction to Design Thinking for the participants, and it was also a wonderful introduction to Dublin for me. As a result, I recently completed a three-month work rotation to our Dublin office to help our Design Thinking practice continue to grow. Co-coaching this boot camp was a great way to start my rotation, as it helped me get to know the people and the city. It also gives me an opportunity to see how colleagues in Dublin will use Design Thinking as part of their work.

I can’t wait to see the impact!