Empowering Professionals

Top Takeaways

  • Taught design thinking to Delta Dental employees, who now use it in their daily work
  • Solidified my love of running workshops for adults

Background

At Stanford, I completed coursework in design thinking, including a course called Leading Disruptive Innovation. The course involves teaching design thinking to professionals. My classmate Kenneth and I led a team from Delta Dental. In 8 weeks, we taught them to “empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test” in pursuit of their goal: to improve uninsured Americans’ oral health.


A screenshot of the website for “Smile Connection,” a team-generated idea for a dental truck that provides cleanings regardless of insurance.  For each cleaning purchased, a cleaning is donated to someone in need.

Our team test-launched two ideas—a family oral health activity kit and a dental truck that follows a “buy one, give one” model for cleanings. 

Results

They’re now using their new skills in their day-to-day work to boost their creativity, and one team member is even leading design thinking workshops in the company.

Personal Insights

This experience honed my understanding of how and when to use specific design thinking tools, as well as the challenges they can pose, including the need to break routines, brainstorm beyond what seems feasible, and launch less-than-perfect ideas. Getting our team to meet these challenges required being committed and willing to participate while leaving final decisions and ownership to the team. It meant pushing our team to do increasingly innovative work.

The experience also reinforced how much I enjoy facilitating adult workshops. While it was challenging to do so much in a short time, it was a joy to build relationships and see our team become confident, excited design thinkers and leaders.

On an analogous visit to the Exploratorium. Analogous visits give design thinkers an opportunity to see how other industries accomplish a particular goal In this case, we were curious about how the Exploratorium creates engaging educational experiences that change the way people see the world. The team used their insights to create the oral health activity kit. (L-R) Myself, classmate Kenneth Fernandez, and Delta Dental Employees Eva Hoffman, Kimberly Golz-Skuta, Anslyn Giacomazzo, Kai Jaffe, and Brandy Petricka.