Design and Learning

Creativity is a process where the problem domain is deconstructed or unbundled into constituent parts and then re-assembled or combined together in new and innovative forms.


Designers and project mangers solve time constrained problems (commercial designers-e.g. illustrators with deadlines and paying clients). A wide range of problems need to be addressed: technical, people, process, communication, concept, organizational, contractual, etc.

Solving problems requires learning, individual and group learning. It is well understood that adults have distinct learning preferences or styles. For example, many people enjoy an active try-and-experience or roll-up-your sleeves approach. At some point everyone has tried this, especially in early childhood.

Two additional modes are prevalent:

  • Empathetic Mode: Interest in people, experience, and how others feel
    • Prefer understanding people, reflecting on their experiences, considering how others look at the world, imaginative, unlimited perspective, and interested in taking time for this process to unfold and mature.
    • This style is aligned with the divergent process or approach in Design Thinking
  • Analytical Mode: Interest in theories and models
    • Collect data, examine, create models, evaluate, test, logical relationships, theoretical concepts, analysis and plan.
    • This style is aligned with the converging process in Design Thinking or Re-combination process in system design.

It is across the axis of these two learning styles in particular that creativity develops and leads to unique outcomes to meet a deadline with facilitated structure and process.


 How to facilitate group learning with different styles?

  • Facilitating a meeting with different preferences: every meeting will have a mixture of personality types, learning preferences, and cultural norms.
    • It is important to set the stage for every workshop or meeting activity, to set expectations and importantly acknowledge that people have different learning preferences and that some aspects of the following activity may not resonate strongly, or even be a bit frustrating
    • Best practices
    • Cross-preference activity set
  • What is the objective of the meeting? New ideas, problem solving, constructing solutions, making decisions, communication, planning?
    • A process is needed with structure: working with each learning style through each phase one at a time in discrete segments, with different tools and techniques applied
  • Understanding where the team is in the project life cycle is important


  • Group understanding of differences: A model combining Adult Learning and Design Thinking
  • Tools for individuals to try and experiment with different learning styles; experimentation as an opportunity for greater understanding.
  • A process to help the team through the diverging phase into the converging phase; how is the transition managed, identified, queued