Design Thinking In Action

Image credit: frog design's SI Week Workshop: Remaking Transportation deck
Image credit: frog design’s SI Week Workshop: Remaking Transportation deck

So I had the chance on November 17th, 2016 to attend a workshop ran by frog design during SIWeek Workshop: Remaking Transportation. I got hands on experience in design thinking with a group of complete strangers of working professionals in the Bay Area to work towards solving this problem in a two-hour time frame. Despite us not knowing each other in the beginning, we were able to stay focused on the task of solving the problem presented to us to the maximum efficiency while still being creatively engaged and having equal representation with each other.

Here are my key takeaways as design thinking as a process from the workshop:

Get up often to create energy and stay energized while working in groups.

I noticed that we got up many times during this two hour workshop to group customer pain point post-its, create and the share out. The share out was a short skit of the customer journey and then we would act out the solution. This very much reminded me of elementary school, yet it was a very effective way of keeping the larger team engaged on idea generation, refinement, and synthesis.

Make eye contact and listen closely to ideas.

We were able to get to know each other right away and be in-tune with listening to each other by playing a short ice breaker before we started working based on the “catch the ball” game. This is when you say something and throw an invisible object while making eye contact with someone else to catch the object. As the person receiving the object, you need to be alert when someone is calling you by sound and visually so you’re ready to catch the object when it’s thrown your way.

Open Ended Questions

Usually, clients will ask an open ended question that we have to solve. In our case, it was “how do we solve the Bay Area’s public transportation issue?”   

Projects are broken up into three phases:

Discover Pain Points

You’ve got to figure out where the customers are experiencing difficulty, also known as pain points. In order to get data on the pain points for customers, you’ve got several approaches. The best thing to do is go in-the-field of where the customer is using the product or service in order to get the full context of the situation. You can then conduct card sorts, complete in-depth interviews, experience the environment hands on with all senses and perhaps read a diary or documentation of customers to gather data that would otherwise be overlooked by the client or customer. The analysis of this data transforms into insights.

Synthesis of Data

Once you’ve got your data, you can then find themes by writing down key ideas on post-its that are then put on the wall. Then you can group these post-its together to refine the problem into smaller categories of pain points. From there you can create a persona (a customer) who would use the product or service. When creating the persona, think of the extreme ends of both customer ends (such as the guy who is color blind and has hearing issues versus the tech savvy guy). The averages of those two groups will benefit anyways from addressing the fringe groups.


Your persona will reveal insights that then can become ideas. Once you’ve got your data, you can then start prioritizing, creating concepts for solutions and sharing out those concepts. These concepts are then further refined and developed, evaluated based on experience, visual and interaction. Once a concept is decided upon, you can then develop the Go-to-market strategy.


This is the fun part! Finally, your ideas become products. Prototypes are created of your product or service and then tested for usability. You’ll want to gather detailed UX design documentation in order to make improvements. At this point is when the CAD drawings are created and passed onto engineering to build (or the software wireframes if it’s software engineering related, such as a website or an app).
This experience was truly amazing by refining and transforming what I thought of design thinking to a whole new level. I’m hoping to have another chance to work with the frog team on solving other real world problems to enhance the human experience. Shout out to my team members Aaron, Tawan and Peter for being fantastic to work with!

What tips do you have when working in groups following design thinking? Have you had any successes or struggles? Share below in the comments!

Tools and resources:

Frog Design:

Ice Breakers:

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