Designing a Global Design Thinking Program for MARS

Antonio Starnino
Oct 27, 2020 · 3 min read

Partnering with Future London Academy we worked with a food consumer product multinational to successfully developed its internal design thinking movement through the launch of online resources and targeted training interventions. A global program for team leaders around the world to amplify a design thinking framework in their organization

After introducing design thinking as a mindset, our client wanted to reach the next stage of design maturity equipping employees to facilitate and manage collaborative, design-driven projects, upskilling them from design thinking practitioners to team facilitators

We were asked to instruct 250 managers across 10 locations world-wide, with different languages and degrees of familiarity with design thinking. We guided them to evolve from the ability to adopt methods supported by internal experts, to the mastery of facilitating daily and independently.

The project involved curating content and format of the program, pilot it and recruit and train local trainers that would deliver the workshop in each location.

Research and Mapping

During the preparatory research with the leaders in charge of the design thinking resources, we acquired existing internal challenges of the clients, to contextualize the learning in familiar scenarios.

From these conversations, two project streams emerged: one was to refine content that managers can learn and apply, the second was to source insights from the training session to update the existing organization’s design workbook with facilitation guidelines.


The pilot tested how the program activities work in space and how the teams would make use of the educational material designed. The training was based on an active learning approach, where brief presentations of facilitation methods were provided.

In turn, each workshop participant practiced facilitating an activity for their team with a cheat sheet suggesting a facilitation pattern. Each activity block included a reflective session for peer-learning and the trainer to address technical questions generated by practicing.


The program has been since facilitated in USA (Chicago and Nashville), U.K, Germany, China, and Russia. To allow this learning-by-doing process, the educational touchpoints developed were a triangulation of a theoretical master presentation, a collection of facilitation patterns for participants to use, and visual collaborative tools for team activities. A trainer guide was also designed to onboard and train local trainers.

Participants felt comfortable facilitating even with low familiarity with the new techniques, as long as they found the corresponding method on the organization’s existing workbook.


1. Because of the expected concern with the ‘economy’ of time and resources for design thinking. We included in the facilitation methods ideas of design management and operations, indicating what assets can be reused and shared and how to modulate the methods accordingly to availability.

2. In corporate environments design language and methods need to be simplified and in sync with the pre-existing organization’s vocabulary to be directly applied in practice. The learning opportunities come by practicing and enacting the facilitator’s role, using self-reflective sessions to make the theory

Simon Gough, Senior Service Designer
Ekaterina Solomeina, Co-founder Future London Academy
Janson Cheng, Social entrepreneur and transdisciplinary designer

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Antonio Starnino

Written by

Montreal born designer / coach / partner @studio_we_ | Masters graduate @hsi_concordia — Interested in #servicedesign, #orgchange & #designleadership | he/him

Work Design Portfolio

This is Studio Wé’s archive on Work Design, curated to showcase projects, methos and critical reflections to design new ways of working and happy work environments.