Design Thinking Mentor Program Challenge

Design Thinking Mentor Program collaboration event
Yours truly presenting for my team.

On a Wednesday evening in early December, four teams took on the challenge of a need for a Design Thinking mentor program.  Led by Karen Gordon, of  We Design Think, and a team of facilitators, we took a brief look at the design thinking process before jumping into short in-depth interviews with stakeholders about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with mentoring.  Multidisciplinary teams of 5-6 people broke off to share their insights with each other.  Teams went on to ideate and some came up with possible prototypes.  Due to the shortness of time, there was no opportunity for testing.  Maybe another Design Thinking meet-up?  I’m looking forward to seeing a working product come from an evenings work.


Design Thinking Mentor Program Main Insights

Mentee insights: collaboration, relationships, trust, small groups with special interests, clearly communicating desires/ goals, digital infosharing/ follow-up tools, intentional grouping

Event insights: clarity of events,  resources, mechanics, interaction, event participant traits, what is missing from events, making transitory meaningful

Mentor insights: depth levels and types of mentorship, characteristics of a good mentor, connecting/follow-up, commitment incentives


Design Thinking Mentor Program Themes

More engaging events with purpose

New tools and processes for event prep and follow-up

Mentors struggle to connect with mentees because they find it hard to find/develop meaningful relationships

Gamified mixers

Need/want board

Speed mentoring

An unconference model

Online dating paradigm

On the table model – sharing over food – (Linked + Tinder = It’s Just Lunch/Networkr)


Design Thinking Mentor Program Prototypes

2015-12-02 20.03.431. An unconferenced model of speed mentoring with an online dating paradigm and an on-the-table model, like sharing over food.

2. Goal-oriented team meet-ups happening over multiple sessions to build trust and comfort.  The meetings are facilitated for clarity and geared at developing relationships through exercises, like”trust falls”.  These meet-ups will also focus on collaboration, accountability, and intent; with follow-ups online via social media, emails, etc.

3. A voluntary event series with mentor/mentee matching coupled with conversations between events  and an insured information exchange at the end of the series.


I hope I was able to appropriately interpret all the great work the this group of Design Thinking professionals did towards developing a Design Thinking Mentor Program.  Time was extremely short, but following a base methodology, some truly solid prototypes were developed.  I hope to see a chance to begin to put at least one, if not a combination of all three of these into action and see were things lead.


Robert Grossman is a design thinker currently located in Chicago, IL.  Images taken by Ryan Anderson.