Collaboration + Facilitation + Workshops with Austin Govella — DT101 E83

Austin Govella is an experience design director at Avanade Digital Studio and author of Collaborative Product Design.

Portrait of Austin GovellaListen to Learn About:

  • Product design
  • Collaboration in design work
  • Some challenges that can arise when collaborating
  • Connecting design to the larger world
  • Designing within and for systems
  • Workshop/training design
  • Collaboration facilitation

Our Guest

As an experienced facilitator with over 15 years of experience, Austin leverages a collaborative design approach with clients and specializes in facilitating design thinking, product management, design sprints, and Agile methodologies. As an experience director, he delivers design thinking and workshop facilitation training for Avanade’s Experience Design practice.

Austin is a LUMA Institute Certified Facilitator of Human-Centered Design.

Show Highlights

[01:43] How taking a break from university led Austin into the field of design.
[04:30] Austin’s work at Avanade, and platform-based innovation.
[06:24] Collaboration has been a key aspect of Austin’s work methodology since his university days.
[08:11] How collaboration can help the solo designer and small design teams at a company.
[09:39] Collaboration magnifies the impact of design.
[10:43] Design is more than just making pretty visuals.
[11:43] Design must be created within the context of the business and the “world” in which it will live.
[12:45] Austin’s thoughts on modern design education.
[13:09] Giving your design a “good life.”
[15:15] Why designing that “good life” requires collaboration.
[16:03] Greenfield innovation design vs. wicked problems design.
[18:26] Austin talks about some of the challenges he’s dealt with when leading workshops.
[20:05] How people learning design thinking can be too focused on the mechanics and not on the outcome.
[21:05] When designing a workshop, focus on the outcome.
[23:46] Viewing the workshop as a collaboration.
[26:59] The importance of inclusion and trust when collaborating.
[27:58] Being willing to go in unexpected directions, and the magic that can happen when you do.
[29:33] Austin gives advice for new facilitators.
[31:56] Ways to help and support the person who doesn’t want to participate in a workshop activity.
[33:40] Frame, facilitate, finish.
[34:44] Other personalities you can encounter while facilitating workshops.
[38:06] You can’t auto-pilot a workshop.
[38:54] The importance of the small breakout groups in workshops, especially those that are virtual.
[39:57] Offering participants the chance to think about the topic before the actual workshop or meeting.
[42:47] Trusting the process and the participants as a facilitator, even when it’s challenging.
[46:23] Austin talks about his book, Collaborative Product Design.
[49:19] Work the Room, the book Austin is currently working on, dives into how to manage the people and personalities you’re collaborating and facilitating with.
[53:10] Books and other resources Austin recommends.


Austin on Twitter
Austin on Medium
Austin on LinkedIn
Austin’s website and blog

Book recommendations

Collaborative Product Design by Austin Govella
The Product & Experience Design Guide
Work the Room, The Book, by Austin Govella
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, by Priya Parker
Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo
Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change, by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon
Rapid Problem Solving With Post-it Notes, by David Straker

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Designing Facilitation: a system for creating and leading exceptional events // ALD 006 — DT101 E73

Designing Your Team + Teams in Design Education + Coaching Design Teams with Mary Sherwin and David Sherwin — DT101 E49

Teams, Sprints, Prototyping, and Better Meetings with Douglas Ferguson — DT101 E59

Resources — Thinking and Solving Like a Designer


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