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When the pandemic just started, I had just developed a new program that would teach Design Thinking and empathy-based innovation to local businesses – by helping them apply it to their own current challenges. Our team at the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre was excited about it, and we were about to start promotion when the pandemic hit.

So, we quickly changed course and turned it into a fully remote program, delivered online via Zoom and Mural.

We invited 5 local businesses; each business could bring a team of 5 people and their own challenge. After helping each team define their challenge and create a how-might-we statement, we set to work:

Each week, we hosted one online workshop – during these workshops, all 5 teams got to learn together about the core principles of Design Thinking; they had some time to learn together as a group, and some time in break-out rooms to work on their own respective challenges. Thanks to Mural, we could also provide opportunity for the teams to support each other and learn from what other teams were trying out.

Each team also was paired with a coach, who met them once per week via Zoom to further help them apply the Design Thinking methodology to their context.

After 6 weeks, we had collected generated hundreds of innovative ideas for the various challenges the businesses had brought. It was a steep learning curve – managing 5 teams with 5 challenges within the same zoom / mural session wasn’t easy – but it was worth it. Thanks to great technology, we had almost as much fun drawing, creating, playing games and bringing the important element of play into the process, as we would have in person.