Design Thinking

Design Thinking workshops and Hack Days – our approach

At Strategic Facilitators, we use design thinking methodology as a tool to help clients approach strategic problems and innovation from a different perspective.

‘It was an amazing experience! The day was very engaging, sharing and productive. This workshop was surely a hit. I would love to do it again. Thanks for organising.’

‘What a great day … I’m looking forward to seeing the winning idea developed and implemented. It’s important to staff that the momentum and enthusiasm from these types of days are then translated into proactive management decision making and implementation.’

Feedback from a recent hackathon post engagement survey where the client rated:

  • the impact to the organisation as 10/10,
  • the engagement overall as HIGHLY SATISFACTORY, and
  • the likelihood to recommend at 10/10.

A Design Thinking intensive | An overview of our process

(indicative approach to our design thinking and hack day workshops)

This is a process of divergent and convergent thinking – it requires creative and analytical thinking.

The start

This is where the process begins! Perhaps someone in your business has said ‘I’ve heard about design thinking – I wonder if it could help us get to where we want to be?’ But you’re not exactly sure what it is or how to begin. We can help you get started and work out if this process is right for you. We will work with you to identify an opportunity, scope the project, and make a plan.

Once we have decided that design thinking is the right tool for you, you can expect the process to continue somewhat along the following lines – depending of course on your timing and expectations.

What is? 

This stage is where research takes place, insights are identified and the design criteria established. The goal is to immerse ourselves in current reality and understand end users unmet needs. Clues to a new future lie in dissatisfactions with the present.

What if?

Ideas are brainstormed, concepts developed and some napkin pitches created. This stage is creative and generative but needs to go beyond simple expressions of new possibilities and arrive at robust concepts that can be evaluated.

What wows?

By now some key assumptions will have surfaced. This stage is focused on unearthing those key assumptions and then creating experiments or prototypes to be used in testing. Prototypes allow us to capture the critical assumptions to be tested in a way that feels real to those we want to solicit feedback from.

What works?

Now we get feedback from the stakeholder/s, run your learning launches, make tweaks to your design based on stakeholder feedback, or go back through the process again if you’ve discovered you are off track. Remember … design thinking is a fast iterative process – it is about coming up with ideas, testing them quickly to work out which ideas have legs, and then getting the best ideas on the on-ramp!

And finally … what can you expect at the end?

At the end of the session we can help you identify how and where this process could be applied more broadly throughout your organisation. So as well as finishing the day with a truck load of great ideas, your staff will have developed new skills and competencies that can be used across all facets of your business!

Sources: Strategic Facilitators 2018; Brown, T 2009, Change by Design, Harper Collins, New York; Liedtka J and Ogilvie T (2011) Designing for Growth: a design thinking tool kit for managers, Colombia Business School Press, New York

If you are interested in learning more about design thinking workshops and hack days for your organisation, please contact Lauren Spiteri: or 03 9428 8817

Examples of some of the challenges we helped solve with Design Thinking:

  • We prepared for and delivered a hack day with a Victorian state owned enterprise looking to evaluate and improve their customer facing processes. We worked closely with the teams to better understand their different customers. The Hack Day involved 60 customer facing staff members who worked through all steps of the design thinking process in one day to develop ideas to improve their processes. The winning idea was immediately implemented across the customer service function.

  • For a Federal Government Department, we used design thinking methodology to deliver a policy hack. The policy hack event brought together over 100 service providers, senior federal and state bureaucrats, service users, academics and industry leaders. The purpose of the event was to develop innovative ideas for policy initiatives that would assist people from three identified priority groups, who are at risk of becoming long term welfare dependent, transition to employment. We developed and managed a process where workstreams developed inputs to be used during the policy hack and worked closely with the Department to develop a bespoke process for the day. On the day participants were broken into ten teams and each team used design thinking methods to ideate, identify a solution, scope a high level initiative and pitch their idea to a panel. The ideas developed were submitted for consideration by the Department.

  • We worked with a leading Australian financial services organisation to redesign their remuneration structure. We held two design thinking workshops with senior teams to develop and iterate different solutions to the problem. The methodology enabled the executive team to explore various options before defining a new remuneration structure.

  • We worked with the HR team of a Victoria tertiary education institution to identify ways in which they could use design thinking to solve problems and change their ways of working to better support their stakeholders and the university’s employees. We ran a half day design thinking training program that lead the senior leaders through the methodology and facilitated a discussion for how this methodology may be embedded in their approach to problems and ideas.

Case study


A workers’ compensation insurer specialising in emergency services and government clients


Engage in an intensive, fast-paced, collaborative innovation sprint addressing some of the major challenges facing the emergency services industry.

Workshop details

We facilitated a half-day innovation sprint (hack day) for ~60 representatives from organisations in the emergency services sector.

The day commenced with an overview of the adapted design thinking methodology we would utilise, and how participants would engage with the different steps throughout the session.

Participants were divided into table groups, with each group given a different ‘challenge page’ providing context on the specific problem they were trying to address, why it was a significant issue in emergency services, and a brief on the current research surrounding the topic. The groups were then given time to share their insights on the topic and define how they would measure the success of any potential solution – i.e. define in greater detail precisely what problem they were looking to solve.

Through a series of individual and group ideation prompts, the tables identified a wide range of possible solutions before agreeing on their preferred solution. A specialist panel of mentors was on call throughout the day to share their expertise on the various topics, and to challenge participants to think beyond their comfort zones.

The groups’ favourite solutions were creatively prototyped to enable the mentors to ‘experience’ their ideas. The groups walked the mentors through the solutions, whilst the mentors challenged some of their underlying assumptions and provided feedback on the effectiveness of their ideas.

Following the feedback from the mentors, the groups were given time to refine their prototypes and prepare their final pitch. Each group presented to the room, interactively demonstrating their prototype and sharing the intended impact of their idea. The day culminated in a People’s Choice Award where all participants voted for their favourite concept.

Workshop outcomes

All of the pitch documents were collected and sent to the client’s ‘innovation team’ following the workshop, where they were assessed and considered for pilot funding. There was considerable enthusiasm for these next steps from all participants, with several volunteering to help drive implementation of the solutions over the coming months.

Our client, who had not participated in any kind of innovation workshop previously, was buoyed by the experience and impressed by the enthusiastic response from the groups. This innovation sprint is now likely to be included in their conferences on an annual basis.

Thanks to Gallagher Basset for allowing us to share this video. Videography by Live Vision Productions.