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DatB Unconference 2018 - Florida

In December 2018 coaches and facilitators from a variety of companies congregated at St. Pete Beach, Florida to host the second Design at Business (DatB) Unconference.

by Eric Morrow

Learning from the first iteration in 2017, we covered a widespread variety of challenging topics in our two and a half days together — from imagining and supporting behavior change in a world of pilotless planes, to “peeling an onion” to understand the problem under the problem, to examining the interplay of design, leadership, and organizational change. We used a variety of formats to make progress on our topics, including the 20+10+10 model of focusing on topics for just the right amount of time, to walk and talks on the beach for in-depth discussions with our DatB colleagues, to periodic heads-down time to create artifacts of our work that we can return to over the coming year.

We also came up with a proposal for future Design at Business meetups, in our ongoing and iterative quest to provide the best environment for engaging and collaborative sessions. We’ve discovered four ways of using our time together that seem to be the most productive: deep dives into complex topics led by an experienced practitioner, unconference style rapid discussions on top-of-mind relevant topics, maker sessions to turn ideas into tangible products and artifacts, and small group walk and talks that facilitate deeper conversations with interesting people. Future meetups can start from, and build on, these four models of working together.

Below are our artifacts from the unconference, along with short descriptions about what work was accomplished and the problem discussed.

2018 Unconference Agenda


In an Unconference, the agenda emerges naturally over time based on the topics that the participants wish to discuss. This board shows the agenda once it became complete, looking backwards from the end of the unconference.

  • Day 1:  10 minute DT “abs”, Walk and Talk “kvetch”, Pilotless Planes, Theater and Improv for DT
  • Day 2:  What to Stop doing, Leader Loops, Reframe Working, How to Peel an Onion, Facilitator Career Path and When to say “Enough”, Risk vs Confidence curves, Remote Work best practices, the 10 years of a Design Thinking Journey, the Design at Business business model, and Sketching.
  • Day 3:  Hacking frameworks, Org Design, Leadership and Diversity & Inclusion, Maker Time (Calendar), and DatB & You!!


Artifacts and Photos from the various topics

10 minutes DT "abs"


Design thinking is a muscle. For people who are full time facilitators or people trying to get into a routine, there needs to be a way to exercise our skills. The 10 minute DT abs is a way for us to look at daily, weekly, monthly and yearly ways to practice design thinking. The goal was to create a guide on how to host a framework that built good habits of creativity. By Naveen Rajadhyaksha, ConsenSys (read a longer version here — https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/8-minute-design-thinking-abs-naveen-raja/)

Walk and Talk “kvetch”

We took advantage of being in Florida and on the beach to go on walks with small groups of people. The environment and exercise facilitated interesting conversations with interesting people. The opening walk and talk was a “clear the system” opportunity to destress from the year and bring an open mind to the unconference.

Pilotless Planes

Making people or organizations change behaviors is a monumental task. The group worked on an exercise to answer the question How Might We successfully launch and sustain pilot-less planes as a mode of transport? This analogy helped us think about what behaviors need to change to shift large systems.



We considered the following questions:

  1. What changes are needed?
  2. How do we start to change behaviors?
  3. How do we sustain the shift?

The group came up with 3 frameworks to make behavior changes, inspired by the forces diagram (strategyzer.com) and Atomic habits.

By Deepa Iyer, SAP (amazing infographic by Ryann and Brittany!)



Theater and Improv skills for facilitation

In this participatory and high activity session, we broke into small groups to identify practices we learned from theater or improv and came up with prompts and demonstrations of how they are used in facilitation. The methods we demoed: the queen’s chair (change physical proximity and height to show humility), redirecting questions (“what do you think about __[thing you just asked me]__?”), escalating (using “yes and” to create wild ideas), diffusing tension with humor (thumb wars), soap opera questions (drama and pause), and challenging assumptions (make invisible visible).
By Hadassah Damien, ConsenSys



What to stop doing to make room for new ways of working

The starting point for this conversation was what behaviors need to be subtracted (from a person, team, or company) in order for new (and improved) behaviors to find space to flourish. The framework that emerged was a ven diagram between “Case Opening”, “Workshops and Meetings”, and “Leadership”. So behaviors to stop when launching a new engagement, during working together time, and as a Design leader.



Leader Loops

5 tips for giving feedback to leaders:

  1. CONSIDER THEIR NEEDS & YOUR OWN
    Build empathy for the leader — understand context/situation, pains, gains, jobs
  2. ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
    Set the tone for positivity and openness. Model the behaviors you wish to see. Recognize and show appreciation for what’s working/helping.
  3. STATE YOUR INTENTION
    It’s not personal. Be clear about what you need/seek and hope to accomplish. What’s the end game?
  4. KEEP IT SIMPLE, BUT PRECISE
    Make the feedback less overwhelming and scary by distilling it down to a few points of focus.
  5. GIVE & TAKE
    Have a solution or recommendation ready, but leave space for leaders to contribute and play Sherlock. Leverage leadership expertise (i.e. influencing others)
    By Katie Kelly, Medtronic


How to reframe working in a design thinking way

We identified three main skill sets which are: design mindset, using data, and storytelling. The approach we saw work best was not to try to convince leadership or gatekeepers — but rather “just do” design-driven methods and then actively use the outcomes to demonstrate the value of design thinking in projects, processes, and departments. By Hadassah Damien, ConsenSys



How to Peel an Onion

It often takes time to get the facts on a particular problem/project. It is not always practical or convenient to have everyone included in the DT workshop. This is a map of how best to create empathy with folks to dig deeper into a subject and find all the issues early in the process. Then DT can be used to help get to a solution.
By Judd Ferrin, Plymouth



Facilitator Career Path and When to say “Enough”

The starting point for the conversation was the model ConsenSys uses to think about the roles and responsibilities of a design thinking facilitator across various skill levels (Associate, Lead, Senior, and Director). The conversation ended up connecting into a wide variety of topics such as:

  • the environment, culture, and reward system the facilitator operates in
  • the experience drop off from being part of a workshop to “day to day” life
  • the facilitator as a boost
  • the Innovator’s journey (vs just Innovation)

Another theme that we discussed was when a facilitator should say “enough”. So a facilitator can (and should) choose to walk away from less productive situations. We didn’t get to, but left open for a future meetup, the criteria for when someone should walk away from a team, a project, or a company. By Eric Morrow, ConsenSys.


Risk vs Confidence curves and Go to Market strategies

Remote Work best practices

Facilitation and workshopping does not have to be in person. Our team spent 30 minutes looking at best practices for remote workshops, how to adapt your in-person style to the web, and how to mitigate common problems. We found that time boxing, limiting participants and using a digital tool like mural are all good ways to start exploring remote work!
By Naveen Rajadhyaksha, ConsenSys



The 10 years of a Design Thinking Journey

From 2008 to 2018 DT has passed through the veins of many organizations to varying degrees and outcomes- what, if anything, have we learned?

2–3 Takeaways:

  • Starting to imbue DT into “doers” and facilitators, and not incorporating leaders up front, led to leadership resistance for years- slowing progress and demoralizing employees at a minimum.
  • Imbuing the mindsets into leaders from the start allows the rest of the organization to change
  • their mindsets, their roles, and their processes.
    by Ryann Hoffman, ConsenSys


Sketching Session

Learn the basics of sketching through simple activities : use basic shapes to create your own icon library, draw people and animate their faces with different expressions to convey their emotions, create containers to describe a flow or a story and add shadows to your drawings to put emphasis on some parts. Remember some easy rules : finish your lines, use your whole body when you draw and get the proper pens!
By Sylvie Charpentier, SAP



Maker Time (Calendar)

In order to spread Design Thinking to new people in a format that allows it to become a habit and inspire new ways of thinking, we created a one-a-day calendar with tools and activities to use them every day.

Key takeaways:

  • To extend the usefulness to the most people we created levels. This allows you to engage with the same topic or tool multiple times and continue to learn and deepen your skill.
  • We created 7 general areas to ensure repeated flexing of broader skill areas. So every week you will build your observation muscles in a new way, using a new tool, or through a new activity.
    By Cristina, Wells Fargo


published on linkedin by

Eric Murrow

Design Thinking and Strategy,

Remote Facilitation


I am a facilitator and a design strategist. My focus is to drive innovation by understanding users.