Case study

Billboard Design Thinking workshop: a simple way to innovate


Shared by 
Sean McGuire
UX Architect at Microsoft

Sean McGuire, UX Architect at Microsoft, animate a hands-on workshop on Billboard Design Thinking to learn simple methods to innovate. In this 45-minute workshop, using the worst case scenario method, he goes step-by-step to demystify how Billboard Design Thinking really works. You'll learn the Dos and don'ts, practical advice, and the know-how to run your own Design Thinking workshop in the future.

The challenge: run an efficient Design Thinking workshop

Workshops can be a brilliant way to craft solutions for the real world and they can be an opportunity to foster collective intelligence. But what happens if the workshops are not dynamic and fluent enough – with countless sticky notes and huge plans forgotten almost as soon as the conference room door is closed.

Sean McGuire, a UX Architect at Microsoft, points out that this can happen because in many cases, during a workshop the connection to business is missing.

With over ten years of experience in the field of Design Thinking, McGuire believes that the key to a successful workshop is ensuring that ideas and business values sit hand in hand at the heart of the conversation.

So, what is the Design Thinking approach? Well, all innovations start with observations, and Design Thinking is a way to frame those observations. It is all about helping people collaborate and bringing teams together to solve problems, by sharing their knowledge and experience.

McGuire explains that there are 5 elements that are critical to the Design Thinking process:  empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. Each of these 5 tools acts as a series of gates or insurance – navigate them all and you can be almost certain that your project will succeed.

But it takes more than just a whiteboard and a set of queries to run an effective workshop.  More than anything else, you need to know what it is you want (or need) to deliver at the end of what is often a relatively tight timeframe.

So how can organizations bring creativity back into the workforce and ensure measurable outcomes along the way?

The solution: use Board to centralize Design Thinking activities

Fortunately, all humans are naturally born Design Thinkers. As children, we embrace creativity: children explore the world without fear of embarrassment – it simply doesn’t come to their mind.

Yet the world we live in today is full of hierarchical structures, and adults can often find themselves scared of giving the wrong answers, or anxious about what other people will think about them. 

Design Thinking helps to unlock their creative mindset, by setting up an environment similar to a children playground. 

In a Design Thinking workshop, every idea is welcome and no one will laugh at you, but planning for success is key. 

In Billboard Design Thinking you are working on two connected disciplines – coming up with creative ideas and using your advertising knowledge and experience to figure out how to validate and promote them. After all, even the best most innovative ideas need to be run past management before decisions can be made.

What’s more, almost everything that’s true for a physical workshop is also true for a virtual one: you’ll need people to collaborate with to solve your problem – the more input the better – while your ‘room’ can be real or virtual. 

And with so many people working almost exclusively online since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been able to really see the benefits of working and thinking part or fully remotely.

McGuire uses a Klaxoon Board to manage and run his billboard workshops, because it allows him to plan and define all the workshop activities on a very granular level. He sees it as the masterplan and timeline that guarantees success.

What sets it apart from other online meeting tools is the ability to bring participants together in a very structured way, with a multitude of collaborative features. And with over 100 Templates already available in the Klaxoon library, it couldn’t be easier to get started.

Overview of the Klaxoon templates library |Klaxoon
Here are some of the templates available in the library, and there are many more!

McGuire describes the poster ‘like a huge watch’ with timekeeping tools that let him in control of the workshop and allow a complete download of the workshop outputs at the end.  Being able to set a clock timer helps with quick fire thinking and ensures the discussions keep moving with the same energy within the team.

It’s simple for workshop participants to join and just as simple for animators to keep an overview of the whole Board. 

Features like the sticky notes are particularly well-loved because they imitate the traditional white-board way of working that so many of us feel an affinity for during physical workshops.

In the past, online workshops have been seen as harder to engage people and often lacking interaction, but this new generation of workshops is a very different thing. 

In a physical setting, you might not see the whiteboard and the notes again after the end of the workshop, but in a virtual session you can keep returning to the board asynchronously, and Klaxoon allows you to download the information, collect ideas as you go and come back to them later. 

This is not only effective for those in the ‘room’ on the day the workshop is run, but can also add value for people who didn’t take part in this workshop as well.

The result: collective listening and efficient collaboration

There’s little doubt that this is a great way to collaborate, but does it really show results? In a word, yes! Today, Design Thinking can and does reduce the amount of failed projects delivered in IT, which is no less than 40%, despite huge efforts from the teams involved.

Tools like the Klaxoon’s Workshop Platform ensure that key stakeholders can interact without having to look for a physical location that suits everyone. More, its ease of use and integrated features allow to engage people who may not normally feel that comfortable speaking out in a group. Workshops are often the only moment when senior groups can get together, and the knowledge shared then by the whole team can play a huge part in the final success of the project. 

As a UX Architect, McGuire wants to ensure that people are delighted using the products he delivers. And his experience highlights the real benefit of Design Thinking: listening to each other. Give people a stage to share their experience and you may be surprised by the abundance of knowledge waiting to be discovered.

To know more about Sean Mc Guire's Billboard Design Thinking workshop, watch the live replay available on our youtube channel:

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Worst case scenario workshop online with Klaxoon

Reverse brainstorming: turning the problem upside down to define the worst case scenario


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