Running design thinking workshop at Alibaba

Mar 1, 2018 · 3 min read

Working in the huge, innovation driven e-commence company with fast-paced environment is not easy. Keeping users at the centre of the process is even harder. Here, at Alibaba, we decided to run series of Design Thinking workshops with our Design and Content Strategy teams to help our colleagues break the daily routine and refresh their perspective.


After brainstorming some ideas for the workshop, we decided to build a handmade product and run through all fundamental stages of Design Thinking: understand, define, ideate, prototype and test. We had only one rule for the workshop: make it fun. After the announcement we immediately got enough participants to begin the first workshop. We broke participants into two teams, each team built a backpack for the opposite one. Together with my colleague, I quickly organised the workshop choosing activities that stick .


To understand needs of opposite team, both teams started to interview each other. They were trying to find out what each team member was carrying in the backpack, why?, what issue do they have and what they would like to change in the current one. Based on a results, they grouped the needs and formed personas to focus on.


Next step was to start coming up with all sorts of crazy ideas. For this stage we used “How Might We” methodology. Everybody love it, it gives opportunity to go crazy with all kinds of questions and helps to come up with even more solutions.

At some point one of the teams wanted to prototype a backpack with build in drone propellers on the top, that can help you to carry your heavy backpack from time to time and will charge itself with solar battery. Because of the time limitation teams chose to focus on ideas they can implement within a workshop.


After having a clear picture it was a time to build backpacks, the most fun stage of the workshop if you ask me. Teams were working hard to implement all ideas that they had but of course, during prototyping they found that some of the ideas are really hard to realise.


After they finished building their beautiful, handmade backpacks, it was time for presentations. It was super interesting to see how each team was presenting the “Product” to each other, showcasing all features. In the end of the workshop, both teams shared feedback about results. What they think worked and what could have been better. It help teams to iterate and also reflect on what they’ve learnt.

This workshop helped to explore new ways and ideas. It helped to cooperate and have fun as was originally intended. Luckily, seeing a passion that our team had during the workshop and the positive feedback we received after, it’s safe to say that we had a great start.


Written by


Lead UX Designer at Alibaba Group

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