Catalyst series - tip no.1

This is a series that is geared towards teams and facilitators who use design thinking and agile tools to solve problems in an immersion type session. These are proven and developed through real client experiences – connect with us to learn more.

Using mental exercises

A common problem when doing design thinking workshops or immersion sessions is when designers and facilitators forget that one important thing: to prepare participants to clear their mind, collaborate or find everyday analogies for the assignment given. We at PwC call these mental exercises. While they serve as energizers and icebreakers, they’re really about participants understanding the purpose, key takeaway and the reason for the activity to help enable them to move forward – quickly and without questions.

Let’s bring this to life 

The great example

If teams need to make decisions – whether it is in relation to aligning on a strategy, ideating a way forward or testing new ideas. Often, we are confronted with the issue of too many opinions.

Try doing something like The Organ Donor Exercise. 

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What is it?

You divide into teams and everyone gets the same story. It is a list of organ recipients. The team is composed of the steering committee at the hospital and must rank a list of people in order of priority in terms of receiving the organ. Easy right? Wrong. Why? We all come from different walks of life. Our gender, age, faith, culture and socio-economic group will open diversity give the teams various different perspectives.

Let’s put it to practice and look at four of the possible recipients;

  • Child whose last transplant failed
  • Single mother who is currently unemployed
  • Immigrant and father of four with three jobs
  • Father and corporate man with one child

That is just four of 6-10 possibilities we can conjure. Imagine having to make those decisions. 

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What happens within the team?

First, they bring their personal lives to the answer – maybe someone is a single mother or has been an immigrant to a new country. Maybe someone has had a sick sibling or child. Our personal lives will force us to go one way or the other. It can just as easily be who you DON’T want to get as much as who you DO want to get it.

The groups are not given a lot of time as you want to get them straight into making decisions.

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What do we learn?

  1. Sometimes there is just not one right answer. Teams need to work together to arrive at a solution.
  2. Sometimes our personal lives have to come into play and that is ok. We should understand where people are coming from and let them explain their emotional connection.
  3. At the same time, we need to move quickly. We need to find the right tools and methods to make a decision. Sometimes that is as simple as voting, compromising or allocating a number system.

While there are many more concepts to learn about – these are the top three that we see resonate with clients most.

These are tips to embed into your design-thinking or immersion sessions that you can try out. Feel free to reach out to us if you want any further assistance or to learn more.

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Contact us

Jen Flowers
Catalyst Leader and Lead Solution Designer, PwC Hong Kong
Tel: +[852] 2289 8916

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