Design Thinking with Frog Design and McCombs School of Business

Last week I attended a design thinking workshop by Frog Design — a leading global innovation consultancy and design firm.

The workshop was sponsored by the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal and was held in the  McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.


According to Wikipedia, “Design thinking stands for design-specific cognitive activities that designers apply during the process of designing.”

While that definition sounds a little complex and maybe even confusing, the concept is quite simple.

During the process of design (project, strategy, product, solution,etc) get a group of people with diverse perspectives together and do brainstorming activities focused around drawing or building out ideas and being creative.

The purpose of the workshop was to engage McCombs leaders, faculty and students in design thinking in order to to gain a better understanding of how the methods of design thinking may be integrated in the curriculum of the McCombs School of Business.

There were current and former students from both the MSTC and MBA programs including several people who are deeply involved in the healthcare industry.


“The need for more holistic, proactive and personalized healthcare is greater than ever. Emerging technologies, evolving consumer behaviors and expectations, and a thriving entrepreneurial climate have converged here in Austin, presenting us with a unique opportunity to shape the future of our health care.”


Frog started off by defining healthcare “personas” which included

  • the Patient
  • the Caretaker (family/friends)
  • the Payer (insurance companies)
  • the Provider (hospital administrators)
  • the Practitioner (doctors and nurses)

They attached a name and photo to each persona with the goal of making the brainstorming session more personalized.


Frog also displayed some “futuristic” healthcare related technologies/ideas that are actually happening today such as biohacking, home health monitoring devices like Scanadu Scout, 3D printing technology and health assisting robots.


Future Casting

We were provided with a story that described a snapshot of what the future might be like concerning health care based on trends, the new technologies and where the world is headed in general.

“futureCasting takes clients outside of current business realities and explores ways of shaping an industry’s long-term future through structured workshops, trend analysis, and provocations. This forward-looking view of a business climate shifts our clients current thinking and long-term strategies.” – Frog

Opportunity Statement

From the futureCasting story we were tasked with creating an opportunity statement by filling in the blanks to the following statement:

There is an opportunity to provide [ WHO ] with [ WHAT ADVANTAGE ] that [ FILLS WHAT NEED ]?


Our statement was along the lines of

Provide Mary (the patient) with personalized health data that provides proactive health recommendations that help her and her caregivers make better decisions.

We were also asked to draw out or sketch any supporting ideas around our opportunity statements.

We started trying to narrow the opportunity down to an exact solution during this time but was later told that at the Opportunity Statement stage you should stay as high level as possible and allow your thoughts to be open.

Pitch Concepts

After we had our opportunity statement down we were asked  to come up with pitch concepts. This was our chance to narrow the opportunity down to a specific solution that we would then pitch to the workshop group.


We had a group of four and built off of each other’s ideas. Dr. Anderson mentioned wanting to have a way to know how many slices of pizza he could get away with before it was harmful, automation was brought up, relationship goals were discussed, and we came up with a concept to present.






Fresh Start is helping individuals begin healthier lifestyles by delivering fresh food and meals to their home based off of smart menus and grocery lists created from an aggregation of thier health data, goals and food preferences.


Mary and Ed use Fresh Start to define goals and connect to any health monitoring device (fitbit, health, etc.) or electronic health record (EHR) system they use.

Information on food preferences, allergies, and deficiencies will be pulled in automatically from a device or EHR system or be inputted manually.

A smart menu or grocery list will then be generated and an order will be placed with our local grocers to deliver the food to Mary and Ed when needed.


The price of bad food goes up as more is purchased. The price of healthy food goes down as more is purchased. Mary and Ed are now a happy, healthier couple.


Creative and out of the box activities/environments are what help create creative and out of the box solutions.

Design thinking is a concept and idea that can be applied and incorporated to pretty much anything. Don’t get stuck on rules, etc. Be open, have fun and don’t be afraid to play around with it and make it work for you.


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