A conference for design thinkers, not about design thinking

Is it me or is this year going exceptionally fast?… maybe it’s just me getting older, but I can’t believe it’s almost October. Or maybe it’s just because this year has been beyond my wildest expectations.

It is more than a decade ago when my co-founder Marjo Staring and I started DesignThinkers Group, but at that time design thinking did not mean anything to anyone. In hindsight I really don’t know what drove me to take the leap. I left my job to start a network organization, a very new concept back then, offering something vague and difficult to explain to potential customers. It was also the year my first child was born. So I must have been completely mad.

However, my daughter is now 11 years old and we have grown into a global movement with teams and associates in over 24 countries. We started the DesignThinkers Academy 6 years ago and the demand for experienced design thinking facilitators, coaches and practitioners is growing so fast it’s almost hard to keep up. And even though experienced practitioners are still scarce, this group of professionals is also growing rapidly.

So this is the right time, I feel, to organize a meetup bringing together experienced practitioners, a gathering designed for people who moved on beyond the pointless discussions about definitions and sales pitches disguised as case studies, a conference for design thinkers, not about design thinking.

Now it’s almost October and we are finalizing the design of the conference. It is going to be very experimental and exciting. We have forced ourselves not to fall into the trap of making it too safe, easy and “middle of the road”. The conference is going to challenge the organization, the speakers and the audience. Just as a design thinking conference should do.

We’re mixing formats like open space and un-conferences with theatre so it would be an understatement to say the Design Thinking Conference is going to be interactive. Next to the experiments by our leading actors (Read more about the theatre concept in my previous article) the exercises and breakout sessions the audience will be grouped in “sharing circles” and everyone will have a personal “conference-buddy” for focussed reflections, sharing knowledge and experiences and hopefully everlasting friendship. No one will be left alone ;-)

We have a script and a storyline, all the key-actors are rehearsing, we have an amazing MC (Lauren Currie) and “joker” (Adam StJohn Lawrence) the break-out sessions are being finalized, the musicians are being briefed, the food is going to be fabulous and we’re almost sold out.

Check out our all-star cast:

Lauren Currie, Meeta Patel, Salma Yasmeen, Susan Schaller, Guy van Liemt, Andre Klukhuhn, John Bielenberg, Frans Joziasse, Adam StJohn Lawrence, Tim Schuurman, Jeroen van der Weide, Arne van Oosterom, You…

And more people will be announced soon.

There will be 3 rounds of break-outs offering topics like Visual Thinking, Ethics and Design Thinking, Corporate comedy, Walking a labyrinth, Music Thinking, Visualize your Superhero, Design research, Yoga, Systematic Thinking and more.

So there will be no “death by PowerPoint”, no shiny case studies and no debate on the definition of design thinking. Instead you’ll experience a deep dive into the meaning of empathy, perceptions and biases. We will run experiments, experience a very new conference format and have a lot of fun in the process.

I can’t wait to get started :-)


Founder Blue Sky Republic, Creative Leadership Coach, Founder DesignThinkers Academy, DesignThinkers Group, Artis & Photographer

Founder Blue Sky Republic, Creative Leadership Coach, Founder DesignThinkers Academy, DesignThinkers Group, Artis & Photographer