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The Power of Design Thinking

by: Allen Wehner

Design thinking is a method of creating products, broadly defined, that deliver meaningful experiences to people. We do this by focusing on their needs and perspectives, both articulated and implied—when someone says "I need a faster car," we hear "I need to be able to move faster" or "I need to be present in a place that's far away." This process of thinking opens up new worlds to address that person's real needs more effectively and more creatively. 

At TICO, this means that we're talking to people about their experiences learning about civic organizing as well as learning online. We iteratively take those experiences and the feedback on the prototypes we produce to ultimately create courses that are exciting, engaging, relevant, and accessible. From the information we’ve gathered so far, we’ve found that people really want to feel like they are having an impact while they learn, that their unique experiences are valued, and that they are in a supportive community that is turning that learning into tangible action.

Design thinking requires us to engage with prospective users of this course and they in turn let us know how our prototypes satisfy their needs and wants. This process allows us to connect with those individuals and make sure our products are both useful and engaging. Design thinking means that the production work at TICO is a community effort, just like civic organizing. 

Allen Wehner is a Learning Experience Designer at TICO. He is a graduate student at Stanford University studying Management Science and Engineering, a degree that barely conceals his real love for education equity, organizational behavior, and theater. He seeks to use design thinking, technology, teaching, and psychology to make happier and more equitable systems.


Accessibility has always been a driving force for the work that we do at The Institute for Civic Organizing (TICO); it is the foundation of each of our programs and products. Through this blog, we dissect and explore topics in relation to academia and activism, and participate in current discourse on such ideas in order to expand our vision of accessibility. If you are interested in contributing to our blog (by sharing your personal experience with organizing, being interviewed about a policy, or any other way) please contact

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