Virtually coaching 150 Data Scientists in Design Thinking


Client: The Data Lab

The Challenge

Every year The Data Lab, Scotland's Innovation Centre for data and AI, runs an Innovation Week for over 150 data scientists from 11 Scottish universities. It enables the postgraduates to learn a range of new skill sets, to prepare them before they enter the job market. This has the longer-term goal of increasing the positive impact of data on the Scottish economy. Our training arm – Design Thinkers Academy London – was invited to run this year’s event, which was focussed around an environmental challenge from the Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, looking at how Glasgow could reduce waste and become a more circular city.

The Approach

Due to the circumstances around Covid-19, we had to rapidly innovate and bring our planned live workshop to an online format, training the students in Design Thinking over the course of a one-week Design Sprint. This was the largest online hackathon of its type to ever happen over the popular collaboration platform Mural.

All of our Design Thinking methods and trainings were converted to make them suitable for an online environment. Then, bringing together a group of 15 leading Design Thinking coaches and using webinars, online tutorials, workshops and feedback sessions, we trained the students in Design Thinking, taking them through the Double Diamond process, all focussed on this circular challenge.

The Impact

Job opportunities enhanced: in just one week, 150 data students were effectively trained in the fundamentals of Design Thinking, making them more employable going forward.
Impactful solutions created: over 15 innovative solutions were created in response to an important environmental issue. These ideas can now be taken forward.
Virtual training realised: over Zoom and Mural we brought high impact learning to the students, overcoming numerous challenges and difficulties.

The Winning Concept

Being the first fully online Innovation Week, my expectations were exceeded by miles. I met so many new people, and so many experts inspired me every day. It was unbelievable how much I've learnt in a week now that I look back. I feel lucky that I got to be a part of this week.

Vanessza, University of St Andrews