Finding Your Voice at Doblin 101

Guest contributor, Jo-Hannah Yeo from Monitor Deloitte, reflects on her Doblin 101 experience.

For a few weeks leading up to “Doblin 101”, I had been eagerly anticipating a full deep dive into the Doblin Concept Development process. Over the course of three days, I would have the opportunity to participate in this immersive training, an onboarding tradition at Doblin for more than a decade, but the first of such sessions held in Toronto. Having learned the theory of human-centered design at university and after gaining first-hand experience working alongside a Doblin team on my first project as a management consultant at Monitor Deloitte, I knew there was much more to learn about the inner mechanics and application of Doblin’s approach.

The event brought together 16 people from a variety of backgrounds for a hands-on workshop that explored the frameworks and methods that Doblin uses to build human-centered innovations for its clients. Doblin and Deloitte’s diversity was on display as participants from Canada, Chile, Australia, the UK brought their different perspectives to the challenge of redesigning Canada’s Old Age Security Services. Just like Doblin’s project work, each team was an intentional blend of design, social sciences, public sector, business and digital backgrounds; some with many years of industry experience and others who were just entering the professional field. I was excited to bring a business lens to my team's efforts and the concept we designed.

Together, and in teams, we covered the full concept development process (Frame, Discover, Analyze, Create, and Develop) - five phases that Doblin moves through to design innovations that are desirable, viable and feasible. Throughout this experience, we continuously alternated between instruction and teamwork, applying concepts we had just learned to the case we were solving. At the end of the three days, each of the teams presented their concepts to the Doblin Toronto team, spurring debate and critiques from the project team who had been working on the very same problem.

Doblin 101 was a very rewarding experience, and the hands-on approach allowed me to understand why Doblin continues to deliver these experiences, not only to new hires but clients looking to get past abstract methods and look under the hood of human-centered innovation. It was inspiring to see how far we were able to go in only a few days, simply by starting with a well-balanced team, and a disciplined process.

While it has been part of Doblin’s DNA for more than 30 years (as I now know), one of the aspects that surprised me most was the powerful dialogue that results when you have this level of sectoral and professional diversity working on a problem together. Seeing these different voices in action was one of my lasting impressions from the three-day sprint. Clearly, if you want to solve a hard problem, diversity in your team is step one.

In the end, this experience deepened my understanding of Doblin’s “way of working” and effectively got me "under the hood" so I could start connecting the dots between method and practice, between my skills and those from a different background, and between team culture and project outcome. But personally, while this learning was valuable, what had the greatest impact on me was the new found confidence and clarity that it brought to my own professional voice and role as a business designer.

Thank you Doblin 101!