Designing Feedback + Design Research and Workshops with Nahal Tavangar — DT101 E118

Nahal Tavangar is a self-professed generalist who has worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors across two continents. These roles and experiences have given her valuable insights into design thinking in various industries, work environments, business models, and workplace cultures. Today, we talk about research workshops, metaphors, and designing feedback.

Portrait of Nahal Tavangar

Listen to Learn About

  • Designing feedback systems
  • The three categories of feedback methods
  • How Nahal uses LEGO Serious Play in her work
  • Ways of working with visualizations and metaphor in design work

Our Guest

Nahal is passionate about creating ways to improve existing systems and processes to fit human needs, for the people they serve or may serve. Even before she learned about human-centered design, she was expressing and cultivating this passion in her work.

After diving head-first into the Design Thinking community in Washington, D.C. and meeting her German boyfriend-now-husband, she decided to uproot her life in the U.S. in 2014 and move to Germany to pursue her M.A. in Integrated Design, with a focus on Service Design. Her thesis was on the topic of how we might capture more ‘holistic feedback’ in the design process.

Nahal is a self-professed ‘generalist’ and has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors across two continents. These roles seem unrelated at a glance, but the experiences have given her valuable insights into design thinking in various industries, work environments, business models, and workplace cultures.

Show Highlights

[03:02] Nahal’s journey into design thinking is thanks to a friend’s suggestion.
[04:30] Getting involved with the Design Thinking DC community, and starting to apply design thinking to her work in PR.
[05:00] Using a “question of the day” to get people in her office to think creatively.
[06:23] Moving to Germany to get her master’s degree in service design.
[09:00] Nahal’s struggle to call herself a designer.
[10:23] Adapting terminology to fit the audience.
[11:26] Dawan offers a story about asking workshop participants to sketch.
[13:14] Nahal also likes getting people to work with visualizations instead of just talking.
[13:37] Nahal talks about creating a customer journey map in her work for a German energy company.
[19:09] Another initiative for the company involved diving into customer feedback channels.
[20:31] Discovering a passion for learning from customer feedback in order to create a learning culture at an organization.
[21:46] The need to build connections between research and feedback systems.
[22:12] The problem with only using surveys as a feedback mechanism.
[22:53] The need for a better feedback system that ensures its insights are used by the organization.
[24:47] Dawan talks about the limitations of surveys.
[27:15] Nahal’s three categories of feedback methods.
[28:23] Nahal gives an example of creating a robust feedback system.
[29:33] Feedback systems need to be designed.
[30:33] Getting trained in LEGO Serious Play, and how Nahal uses it in her work.
[31:41] Nahal talks about the first time she used LEGO Serious Play in a workshop.
[33:18] Dawan mentions the power of asking questions.
[35:07] Using Image Cards to help people tap into metaphors.
[36:09] The power of metaphor.
[38:36] A Miro Moment.
[40:22] Dealing with imposter syndrome.
[41:38] Trust the process – and trust the people.
[44:14] Nahal has words of encouragement for those trying to bring design thinking tools into their day-to-day.
[46:36] Find ways to discover the needs of your customers.


Nahal on Twitter
Nahal on LinkedIn
Nahal on Creative Mornings
Nahal’s MA Thesis: Designing Holistic Feedback: A Typology of Methods and Proposed Framework for Soliciting More Comprehensive, Qualitative User Input

Book Recommendations

How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, by Gerald Zaltman
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, by Shaun McNiff
The Mom Test: How to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you, by Rob Fitzpatrick
Good Services: How to Design Services that Work, by Louise Downe

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Design Thinking for the Public Sector + Building and Training Design Thinking Teams with Stephanie Wade — DT101 E14
Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey with Karen Hold — DT101 E71
Designing a Learning System for the Good Life // ALD 013 — DT101 E108

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