Design Thinking for Engagement

As many of you know, DAS’ book club this quarter has been reading Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life. We have been using design thinking to create our own Well-being Dashboard, a Good Time Journal (which may sound trivial, yet it documents our level of engagement in a given activity and how much energy we lose or gain from participating in it), and most recently, Mind Mapping.


One of our members sent me an article (see link below) about how they are using design thinking elements, much like what we’re doing in book club, for teaching STEM in a Bay Area High School. Founded in 2014, the public high school takes a unique approach to education — letting students learn and create projects at their own pace. Teachings are centered on “design thinking,” which finds solutions through empathy, experimentation and evidence-based problem solving, similar to what’s taught at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (


Ken Montgomery, founder of and longtime California educator who received his doctorate from Stanford feels passionately about this way of learning. In the article he stated, “It gives students confidence and teaches them skills like leadership and creativity. “That’s how the world works. You don’t just passively receive it, you actively design it.”


What can state agencies do about this?

Two examples that immediately came to mind are simulations and testing environments. I have heard from managers that have engaged their team in simulations for learning, skill building and assessment, and departments that allow a testing environment to work out the bugs before things go live. What examples can you come up with that would allow your teams to try design thinking to solve problems, create new processes and provide new solutions? Do you provide an avenue for brainstorming or “prototyping” new ideas or solutions? What would it look like if you added time in all staff meetings for this type of thinking?


If you’d like to try some concepts of design thinking with your teams, please feel welcome to contact me!




To learn more, click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s