Design Thinking Workshop: the Methodology

climate dialogue

The Design Thinking process is a soft technology originated in the project design world to come up with innovative and workable ideas. It is the preliminary stage in the stream of invention, in which the team constructs-deconstructs-reconstructs an embryonic concept. It stands at the core of prototyping.

We applied it – simplified and with some tweaks – at the second session of the Leitrim Cróga Climate Dialogue. Our aim was to empower groups of participants to come up with speedy ideas and then transform them into Climate Action initiatives. A collaborative approach was encouraged, to be sure everybody had voice in the process.

Step zero: the Challenges

To start with, the attendees distributed themselves at four different working tables, each one covering a Climate Dialogue topic – Housing, Transport, Agriculture & Other Land Uses (two tables assigned to the latter topic). Each working table was then assigned a specific challenge:

  • HOUSING: what does the government target of retrofitting all houses to standard B2 (BER) mean on the ground? How can people afford this?
  • TRANSPORT: what is our vision for low-emissions transport in rural Ireland? How can we achieve this?
  • AGRICULTURE & OTHER LAND USES: how can our farms become higher nature value and climate proof while ensuring that farmers get fair incomes?

Step one: Speedy ideas

This is a brain-storming exercise in which, in 5 minutes, each group populates an alphabet sheet with ideas addressing their given challenge, each idea beginning with one of the 26 alphabet’s letters.

Step two: Design Thinking

Each person is then given a Design Thinking sheet (format below). Working individually, they pick their favourite idea from the alphabet sheet and put the name of this idea in Box 1. In Box 2, they explain their idea and set goals. They do not go on to Box 3!


the co-design thinking process worksheet
Design thinking empty sheets ready to become brave climate actions

After completing the first two boxes, each sheet is passed to the neighbour on the left, who reads the first two boxes and fills Box 3 with constructive criticism of the idea.

Again, the sheets are passed to the next neighbour on the left whose job it is to fill in Box 4 by being positive, overcoming the criticism and possibly reinventing the idea.

The sheets are again passed to the next neighbour on the left whose task it is to find a catchy name and a slogan and write it in Box 5, in order to brand the initiative so that it can be brought to market.

The sheets are now returned to the original “inventors”, who read all contributions from the group. S/he then pairs up with a member of the group and, as rising startuppers, both discuss their initiatives, giving useful advices to each other to improve them.

Step three: Voting phase

Finally, all the sheets are displayed on the table to all the group. Each person is given three small stickers (or chips). Putting those in Box 6, participants can express a preference for the initiatives they like the most (not their own!). The stickers can all be “spent” on a single initiative or spread on different initiatives. The top 3 favourite initiatives, per table, are thereby elected (if there is a tie, do another voting round or chose both). Those will be the Cróga Climate Actions.

Presenting the favourites

The newly elected Cróga Climate Action initiatives have the chance to be presented to the public. The owners of the initiatives chosen are asked to present these to the whole audience in a one-minute elevator pitch!

All initiatives presented were excellent! GEAI will support and facilitate focus groups to further develop and implement those initiatives, and also will engage in political lobbying to influence policy in the areas addressed.