I have run workshops around the world, of various sizes and durations, that span working with corporations, NGO’s, and academic institutions.
Innovation, Collaboration, and Finance with Artisans in Rural Costa Rica
I was honored to be invited to run a month-long workshop on product innovation and development by the Ministry of Culture and Youth of Costa Rica. The goal was to help the artisans develop new, more broadly appealing products.
After much planning and research with local governmental organizations, it was clear that the problem was having the artisans learn how to collaborate in order to innovate. On top of that, gaining access to small amounts of funds for investment in their companies was necessary to make some of the leaps needed to expand their distribution. Through multiple exercises done on short immersion weekends, participants learned how to work with each other to combine expertise to find new products. More importantly, the process they engaged in refocused their thoughts about each other – their former competitors now became their partners in innovation for the greater artisan community. Bringing in representatives from both a large national bank and an independent micro-lending organization opened up the discussions and opportunity to expand their businesses in a controlled and responsible manner.
Sustainability Workshop in Rural Costa Rica
Following on from the earlier workshop and product development with the artisans of Sarchi, Costa Rica, I developed and ran a second workshop focused on sustainability. This taught the artisans the principles and practices of sustainability, and led to development of new products made from FSC-certified wood (Forest Stewardship Council) that could be sold at a premium. Subsequently, I designed products for Okré Home in collaboration with the artisans.
Fostering Innovation in Mongolia
I co-led a design and innovation workshop in Mongolia for Mobi.com, on behalf of the American University of Mongolia and the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. The goal was to provide participants with insights into the innovation and creative process. Participants came from a variety of divisions within the company including marketing, engineering, design, and management. For two days we worked with them, introducing them to new models of innovating, and then having the cross-disciplinary teams apply what they learned to real scenarios. Though we focused on travel experiences for different types of individuals travelling to Mongolia, by the end of the second day we were having discussions with the participants about ways they could apply what they learned in the workshop to their roles and teams at work. Surely change and innovation in a company takes time, but the workshop gave them the tools they need to start the changes.
Bringing West Coast Design to Paris
I was asked to run a week long workshop with Masters of European Design students at ENSCI (École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle) in Paris, to introduce them to what it is that makes design on the West Coast of the United States so unique. I also ran them through some of the processes, methods and tools that we use in professional practice, so that the approach became less mysterious, more engaging and practical.
West Coast Design has unique properties. Those of us who grew up here or have migrated here are big risk takers and embrace change. This outlook on life and work has made impacts that have made ripples globally.
The workshop was structured around three themes, Risk, Change, and Seeing. Students did observations on the Paris Metro, used structured brainstorm to come up with "crazy" ideas, and then rapidly iterated and prototyped them to rough designs. Translating what is “seen” into actionable ideas is challenging, but with visualization tools and methods becomes less elusive