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Author's profile photo Itzhak Shoshan

What’s the role of a Design Thinking Coach

How do you perceive the role of the coach? What are his responsibilities? What should he perform?

I think that we can all agree that as a coach you should be responsible for planning and executing on the agenda. You should probably advise on how to define the challenge, and in most cases you should ensure that the logistics are right for Design Thinking(room size, white boards, post-it’s, etc.). But is it all?

To me, it is just the beginning. A coach that does just that can be called a Design Thinking facilitator, as he facilitates the Design Thinking work. But is he really coaching?

If you look into coaches in sports, they role definition is much wider than knowing the rules of the game and training their teams accordingly. The best coaches out there excel because they can get their team out of their comfort zone and make them do things that they never thought that they are capable of.

Take a look at this short clip from the movie “Facing The Giants”

A good coach should squeeze every bit of energy, creativity, and execution capability from you during the Design Thinking work. A great coach will make you feel exhausted but satisfied at the end of the workshop.

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      Author's profile photo Jochen Guertler
      Jochen Guertler

      Hi Itzhak,

      thanks for your post. You raised indeed an interesting question as also in my observation most of the design thinking "coaches" are more "facilitators" than "coaches".

      Facilitation is definitely an important part of the work of an DT coach but it can not stop with this. Especially if you see the power of DT work not only on content level but also in the area of people, teams and organizational development.

      The more I do DT work the more I see the second part the key part for an sustainable integration of DT into a team or into an organization. And to support this there is much more knowledge and experience needed than "how to facilitate a workshop" or how to use this or that method or tool (at least this is my personal opinion).

      I am very lucky that I did a 4 years training to become a Gestalt therapist because by doing this I learned to much about myself, about people, about what change needs to be happen. And all of this I perfectly can combine with professional facilitation skills to run a DT team to their journey and to motivate every single team member to leave his or her comfort zone a little bit.

      So from my point of view everybody you would seriously would work as DT COACH should not only invest time in facilitation and method competencies but also in personal coaching skills, knowledge about change and change management and also about systemic thinking.

      Best regards


      Author's profile photo JV Faulks
      JV Faulks

      Hi Itzhak,

      What a great video to make your point. I love that movie, and I'm a big fan of Design Thinking. The impact of well "coached" sessions can be amazing. Are there constraints to enabling more of a coaching approach beyond the DT expert such as participants, time allocated, expected outcomes, etc...?

      Also, do you have any tangible examples you could share to show the impact of well-coached DT sessions?



      Author's profile photo Itzhak Shoshan
      Itzhak Shoshan
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Vance,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      One option would be to add gamification aspects and some competitive attitude between the different teams to ensure we are squeezing the most out of each participant.

      Thanks, Itzik

      Author's profile photo Patricia Eidelwein
      Patricia Eidelwein

      Very inspiring! 🙂