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How to organize and facilitate an interdisciplinary design thinking workshop

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Contents

INTRODUCTION

Design Thinking is revolutionizing work as we have seen in past times. The principles and processes of Design Thinking are helping folks in our time to directly approach complex problems, innovate collaboratively and create a solution. One of the key aspects of design thinking missing at college campus is interdisciplinary collaboration.

WHY?

In most public universities, you will find barriers in interdisciplinary collaboration.  Maybe in your business school, you willfind an entrepreneurial ideas program, then the engineering school might have an innovation initiative, but you will rarely see them come together.  The design workshop promotes the intersection of multiple disciplines working together towards a common goal.  With various perspectives, a holistic solution or design is yielded.

HOW?

It is important to set a firm date and strive to keep this date and time throughout the planning process. This will enable you to more easily show your resolve to potential sources of funding, and increases the chances of success. Next you need to acquire the resources to hold the event and the students to attend.

FUNDING

To create a design thinking workshop one needs to start small with the basic tools he has. Often times initial funding can be difficult to obtain due to the bureaucratic nature of Universities. The best way to get around is to not go directly through the university. Plan an event and start asking for space and donations (not necessarily money, but supplies) from individual colleges and local companies. They are far more likely to be able to help than the university. The best way to encourage donations is to paint how they donor will benefit. If presenting to a college talk of the benefits to their students. If presenting to a company talk about how they will get to interact with motivated students.

ATTENDANCE

It is also important to gain strong attendance from students. Different students have different motivations, and must be addressed differently. Some need to see a presentation telling of the benefits, others need to be told the time and date and that there will be food.

In general it is best to have free food, t-shirts (with sponsors printed on them), and exciting activities. Giving short presentations to various student groups and classes can drum up attendance as well.

BARRIERS

The road to creating such an event isn’t an easy one, but with determination it will be possible.  When you first present this workshop idea to administration, they may be opposed because in the past many of students have talked about events but haven’t seen them through.  Be different!  Begin following through with your ideas by designing advertisement, build a list of interested peers, and find funding elsewhere.  Once you have completed the bulk of the work, go back to administration and re-present, but this time you will be able to tell them what you are going to do rather than what you would like to do.  At this time, they are most likely going to be more supportive due to your preparation and initiative.