How a tabletop role-playing game inspired us to build a game for innovation.

Co-written by Molly Oberholtzer and Ko Wongpichet, Illustrations by Gizem Güvendağ

We’ve written about the need for a good foundation for collaborating with clients here. But in this article, we will go into details of how we address these challenges with a game workshop that prepares participants for collaboration, co-creation, and especially for future thinking.

Presenting the connection between D&D and Design Thinking at the Service Design Network

To get people working together, you need the right energy, understanding of the context, and any barriers for teamwork to be removed. In the design world, we traditionally employ icebreaking activities to reach these goals and create a research report or presentation to try to…


What are they?

Supposedly the origin of the design sprint was a worker at Google. Like many designers or product managers (whatever you want to call the business-minded, tech-savvy creatives who make experiences come alive) this character loved their work, and didn’t mind the long hours. The back and forth with clients, the returning to the drawing board, the sleepless night and rush at the end, after labors and countless emails, the satisfaction of a product the client and users love. It was all good, until they had a new baby, and a family at home. Suddenly there was a good reason to…


A month ago we denkwerkers participated in the Global Service Jam 2019 in Cologne, Germany. Over the course of a weekend, we worked intensively to design service solutions out of problems, using the framework of Service Design. We took some time afterwards to reflect on how to apply what we’ve learned to our daily business as a digital design agency. Here’s what we’ve got to share with you ♥

Momentum > Perfection

Many designers get “stuck” in the research phase. But in a short weekend of work, there is no time for this!

Hot tip: Combine prototyping with research to leverage that energy…


My thoughts from a book that you should read, a book that is nearly impossible to quote, reduce, or splinter into chunks, but must be devoured in full, like a bite of sushi. May this attempt at quoting him not results in a mess of rice over both our plates.

“Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live. But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are.”

-Adam Phillips

Image courtesy Amazon UK

In his work, Phillips experienced more patients who were assured of their un-lived lives, than of the lives they were living. In the world we live it, where we must acknowledge as he puts it, “we are nothing special — on a par with ants and daffodils” and…


No, this was not inspired by the SNL skit, Alexa Silver, but that skit is amazing and if you have been living under a rock you should crawl out and watch it.

In all seriousness, this is research I compiled during early stages of an openIDEO challenge on dementia. I hope my legwork (cough cough access to pay-wall blocked articles) can be useful to you in your own design work.

“Alexa Silver”

Visuals (icons, colors, text)

• Apply grouping design principals to organize interface when there are many app icons on one screen • Desires for large screen and text, and buttons • Maintain…


When I started reading “The Sane Society” by Erich Fromm, I did not expect it to inspire the beginnings of a human-centered design manifesto.

After dog-earring almost every other page, I came to the 289th page, an opus of a chapter, titled “Roads to Sanity”, and I realized I had to take a moment to digest this as a human-centered designer.

In this chapter, Fromm elucidates the various possibilities of practical changes in our economic, political and cultural organization in order to reach the following goal for society:

“… a society in which no man is a means toward another’s ends, but always and without exception an end in himself; hence, where nobody is used, nor uses himself, for purposes which are not those…


*All of the following attributes or qualities were seen in over 50% of those surveyed in the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report. https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2017-facts-and-figures.pdf

Many caregivers had a rocky relationship with their “loved one” (person living with dementia) before they became a caregiver. They may wish for nothing more than the release from this role, but feel it is a burden they must bear. I conducted this open-ended interview as a part of the design research phase of the openIDEO challenge: How might we better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia?

The most typical caregiver of someone with dementia is*:

  • Female
  • Non-hispanic caucasian
  • 50- 60 years old
  • Married/in a long-term relationship
  • Works 35 hours a week in a job outside of caregiving
  • Lives in same region as…


This is a cross-post of something I shared in the OpenIDEO Challenge: How might we better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia? It is a contribution to the research phase.

Please note that Polarity mapping was introduced to me at school, and I am using it in a slightly deviant manner here. It is usually used during the ideas phase to generate diverse solutions, but I am using it to highlight existing diverse solutions. …


I was 6 or so when my father was a caregiver for his father. Now I am a caregiver for my grandmother. Most people will become a caregiver at some point in their life, as healthcare prolongs the life of our aging parents. This is an evident cycle with sprawling ramifications. Or, as OpenIDEO sees it, an excellent challenge. The problem posed in this challenge is inextricably linked to healthcare, social norms, government spending, liability, and much more — It is so tightly woven into the fabric of our lives that it cannot go unaddressed any longer.

Check out the…


It's something like the broken windows theory. The broken windows theory was first described by Jane Jacobs “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” and explores how disorder leads to decay, disregard, and identifies a place as one where hope has been lost. The broken windows theory was established as a criminological theory in 1982, stating that disorder and incivility in a neighborhood signaled a norm, establishing a set of behavior that gave rise or encourage subsequent worse behavior. It was made famous by the New York City Police Department. But the broken window is a symbol, and may…

Molly

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