90 people, 2 days: a crash course in design thinking

Teaching design-thinking in a two-day workshop is a huge challenge, but the results can be amazing.

Portable recently teamed up with Vicsport and VicHealth to run the 2019 Sport Jam – a workshop for 90 sports administrators from more than 20 organisations governing sports ranging from calisthenics and cycling to tennis, netball, basketball, baseball, sailing and water-polo. Some of Victoria’s biggest local government councils were also represented at the workshop, which was part of Vicsport’s ‘Forward Thinking Series’.

The aim was foster more innovative ideas in sports organisations, to help them develop programs, services and activities that increase participation in sport and allow more people to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise.

The participants in the capability-building event got a crash course in design methodology, design tools and design thinking mindsets.

There were numerous wins. Participants recognised the value of using the basic principles and processes of design thinking to understand user challenges and needs, come up with new ideas, and then test and refine those ideas.

Team brainstorming sessions resulted in numerous proposals, including ideas on exercise sessions specifically for working mothers, ways to increase and measure incidental exercise and improving CALD participation in sport.

The workshop is held every year but this was the first year it was facilitated by Portable. Vicsport made the switch after Tom Dixon from VicSport attended a public event in Portable’s office in Collingwood. He says the results were exciting and inspiring.

While it was the first time we had teamed up with Vicsport, it wasn’t our first experience of large-scale capability building. Portable facilitated a similar workshop for the Victorian Legal Services Board and we regularly hold public events on design thinking and ways in which it can be used to address areas of social need.  

This year’s Sport Jam workshop benefitted from the role of table captains, who didn’t have formal design experience before the workshop but were coached by Portable on how to lead the discussion and nurture the design process.

The result was that we had good discussion on all the tables and good engagement on the key elements of design thinking. The participants now know how to communicate and prototype their ideas and, in some cases, validate initiatives – including funding applications.

Says Vicsport: “Sport Jam gave administrators an opportunity to consider the value proposition of physical activity from the end-user perspective and 'think outside the box' to find new ways to encourage less active Victorians to become more involved in sport and active recreation.”


To spark innovation in your organisation or workplace, contact Portable co-founder Simon Goodrich on simon@portable.com.au

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