Coaching and Leading Design Teams, Key Design Methods and How Coaching and Design Thinking Converge with Rebecca Horton — DT101 E8

Welcome to the Design Thinking 101 podcast! I’m Dawan Stanford, your host. Today I’m excited to speak with Rebecca Horton, a designer, coach, and long-time colleague and friend. In our conversation, we’ll talk about how to coach and lead design teams, some design thinking methods she has found valuable, and how design thinking and coaching converge.
Rebecca has always been interested in design, but believed as she Rebecca Hortongrew up that you had to pick a discipline within design (such as being an interior designer, graphic designer, or fashion designer). In her early teenage years, she was fascinated by fashion design, and was captivated by runway shows on TV. She later went to college for political science and public policy because it was practical and pragmatic, and picking a specific design discipline didn’t appeal to her.

After college, she discovered the design thinking field, which had the language to explain what she had been craving, and doesn’t force you to choose between disciplines. She returned to school, started her own practice, and worked in the corporate design world.

In our conversation, Rebecca will dig into a specific example of an instance in which things didn’t go according to plan, which ended up being exactly the turning point that made her work so successful. She’ll also explain how she was able to maneuver and adjust to create this positive outcome from unexpected circumstances, and explore the controversy surrounding customer personas.

As you listen, you’ll also hear powerful advice that you can apply to your own work and methods. For example, Rebecca advises clients to “welcome the stranger,” meaning that instead of telling someone unexpected to leave, invite them in and use the opportunity to understand why they might be there. Tune in to hear more about all of this, as well as Rebecca’s thoughts on blueprints, customer journey maps, and much more.

Learn More About Our Guest

Rebecca Horton
Rebecca Horton on LinkedIn

Show Highlights

[01:11] Rebecca digs into how she got into design, what her early training was like, and how she got to where she is now.
[03:27] What have been some of the challenges or “aha!” moments that Rebecca has faced along her path so far?
[07:59] Rebecca talks about what ended up happening in the situation she has been describing, in which things didn’t end up going according to plan.
[11:22] What ended up happening as a result of what Rebecca has described is that the process became much more collaborative, she explains.
[15:25] We hear about the experiences that helped Rebecca get to a point where she was able to do the maneuvering, adjusting, and listening she has been describing?
[16:48] In co-creating with a student team or client team, what are some of the things that help them get past the initial hurdles with working with the design process?
[18:33] How would Rebecca describe how she approaches pulling together a set of tools that leads to solutions that stick or results that last in her work?
[24:23] Rebecca talks about some of the adaptations she’s had to make to using tools she learned as a student as she brings them into the world.
[27:38] We learn about Rebecca’s thoughts on customer personas.
[30:58] How would Rebecca differentiate her in-house experiences in using those tools from the experiences she’s had in her own consultancy?
[34:21] Rebecca discusses the resources and suggestions that she gives people who want to learn more about design thinking or how to bring it into their work.
[37:40] What are a couple of books that Rebecca would recommend? Her suggestions include The Design of Business, Moments of Impact, and The Power of TED*.
[40:19] Rebecca talks about how her experiences as a designer influence her as a coach.
[42:20] Where is Rebecca headed on her design journey?
[44:58] Rebecca talks about where people can find her to learn more about her and what she does.


Rebecca Horton
Rebecca Horton on LinkedIn
@southernindie on Twitter (Rebecca Horton)IDEO
Service Design Global Conference
The Design of Business by Roger Martin
Moments of Impact by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon
The Power of TED* by David Emerald

Tell me how the show helps you.

Photo of Dawan Stanford

Your ideas support and develop the show. Tell the world how the Design Thinking 101 Podcast has helped you think and solve like a designer. Then, tell me how I might make it even more helpful.

Cheers ~ Dawan

Fluid Hive's Designing Faciltiation Course

Are you ready to design outstanding events that will engage participants and get the outcomes you need? Fluid Hive's Designing Facilitation Course is a step-by-step design thinking-fueled system for creating and leading events, workshops and meetings that solve problems, save money, and protect your reputation.

Designing Facilitation gives you 32 lessons that walk you through answering our Event Design questions, and 28 Event Design Practice Tools that help you immediately apply your learning. Dawan also offers examples and insight from his decades of experience leading events for thousands of people everywhere from the White House to packed ballrooms, cozy workshop rooms, and online spaces with remote participants.

Design Thinking 101 Courses — Framing

In this self-paced, online course, Framing: Creating Better Solutions by Finding More Valuable Problems to Solve, you will learn to create more effective solutions by understanding the problem you are trying to solve. This is the first course in Fluid Hive's Design Thinking 101 Courses Series.

Creating effective solutions begins with understanding the problem we are trying to solve. Is this problem worth solving? Where should we look to understand our problem? What’s happening inside this problem? How do we define the problem? How do we adjust problem framing as we go? During the course, you will learn to answer these questions and apply them to your work.

Resources — Thinking and Solving Like a Designer


Ask Like a Designer — Monthly articles with design ideas, methods, frameworks, templates, and a question-fueled approach to design-driven innovation. Discover new ways to think and solve like a designer.

Sample pages from inside Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield


Download Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield: a guide to avoiding innovation traps by asking 9 of Fluid Hive's Design Thinking Questions.

Your Ask Like a Designer Studio

Your Ask Like a Designer Studio connects you with people interesed in thinking and solving like a designer.

Enjoy invitations to free, live Studio events. Receive articles, Design Thinking 101 podcast updates, tips, tools, templates, workshop information, and more to help you create and perform!

Innovation Smart Start Webinar

Your next project could be easier, faster and more effective if you play smart at the start. In this webinar Dr. Dawan Stanford will teach you ways to ask like a designer so your projects succeed more often and your revenue grows.