What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a process that puts people at the heart of solving Challenges.

It can be applied to any Challenge, from helping young people access better job opportunities, to developing a community wind farm. No matter how big or small your Challenge or community, our training will help you use Design Thinking to your benefit.

Image courtesy of Failte Ireland

There are five stages to design thinking:

You will learn how to EMPATHISE with people affected by the Challenge and use this to DEFINE what you are facing.

You will be supported to develop and think critically about IDEAS for how to tackle a Challenge.

Case Studies

Design Thinking has been used widely and successfully across the world, from global companies like AirBnB and Apple, to social enterprises and charities. Check out some examples below of communities who used this innovative process to their advantage.

Huntly

Huntly is a rural market town in the north east of Scotland with 5,000 people, a historic town centre and a hinterland predominantly based on agriculture. The town centre had experienced a decade long decline of commercial businesses that once formed the key identity of the town.

icecream architecture worked with the community and a 'Town Team' of local leaders to develop a strategic plan for the area using Design Thinking. Firstly, for the Town Team members and organisations to improve their collaboration and partnership. Secondly, to empower the wider community and volunteers by ensuring the offer and training opportunities were relevant, appropriate and working towards the bigger plan.

A programme of workshops focused on assisting and mentoring participants from local organisations and the wider community using the Design Thinking process. Participants developed people-focused ideas that became potential solutions to local challenges.

The Town Team began to test ideas through temporary community action, to show the potential for change and allow for the experience of doing things differently.

The community gained access to a number of vacant buildings on the town’s main square. After several pop-up events in two of the buildings, they negotiated a six month rent contract with a former bank branch. This fully serviced building allowed organisations and individuals alike to see the potential that repurposing unused spaces could offer their community.

Outcomes

Based on the success of the pilot, the community secured funding from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the building for long-term use, with the confidence that the space would be a vital asset going forward. In the 2 years following completion, local organisations invested £117k in projects and actions arising from the plan and managed to leverage an additional £3.5m of external investment and community ownership of 3 key buildings on the town square.

Merrion Square

Merrion Square is a striking Georgian Square and public park located very close to the centre of Dublin, surrounded by attractions such as The Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, and numerous creative organisations and businesses.

36 stakeholders from Ireland's greatest cultural and hospitality establishments formed the Merrion Square Innovation Network (MSIN) to collaborate and develop the Square into a new, thriving destination for tourists and locals. Fáilte Ireland provided the innovation training that would empower each MSIN member to think not just as an individual business or organisation, but as a collective.

Design Thinking workshops were held to teach the skills and forge the connections needed to build a fresh approach. Customers were invited to allow the MSIN to effectively empathise and communicate, generating ideas that would resonate and have the greatest impact.

The workshops involved proven methods such as creating personas and ideation. Professionals from a range of different industries joined to give alternative perspectives on the Square's potential and history. The prototypes formed helped the MSIN gain vital funding and support from other bodies when each team took the opportunity to present theirs at The National Concert Hall.

Outcomes

Since 2012, the activities around Merrion Square have been ongoing.The MSIN actively organised or facilitated some activities, such as World Street Performing Championships and holiday events on St Patrick's Day, Halloween, and Christmas.

The success of this project created a renewed interest from other organisations, with the City Council providing a free wifi zone, ‘Supper on the Square’ hosting dinners in some of the historic buildings, and an outdoor cinema company screening classic movies in the park.

The square and surrounding area continues to be a bustling hub of activity.

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