Design Thinking Facilitation
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Design Thinking Facilitation

Programme Code: CRS-N-0045820


In this interactive, hands-on workshop, participants will have an opportunity to refine their understanding of the steps of design thinking process and mindsets and build design thinking facilitation skills. They will learn how to conduct effective ethnographic interviews, how to analyse data by crafting Empathy Maps, how to synthesise data by creating User Needs Statements, effective brainstorming techniques, and prototyping and testing methodologies. This deep expertise is critical to becoming an effective design thinking facilitator. Participants will also learn how to prepare materials, design spaces, and plan agendas.

At the end of the workshop, participants should be able to

  • Develop a deep understanding of the design thinking process and its underlying mindsets
  • Build design thinking facilitation skills and learn how to prepare materials, design spaces and plan agendas
  • Learn how to conduct effective ethnographic interviews, analyse data by crafting Empathy Map and how to synthesise data by creating User Needs Statements
  • Learn effective brainstorming techniques and prototyping and testing methodologies
  • Learn how to deliver a compelling, engaging, organized and informative design thinking session through modelling, practice and mentoring


 Expert Facilitator: Mr Tony Lai
Managing Director, The Idea Factory

Tony LaiTony Lai has been the Managing Director of design and strategy firm The Idea Factory since 2001 and its owner from 2002 when he executed a management buy-out of the company (founded in San Francisco in 1996). As a pioneer in design strategy and thinking approaches, The Idea Factory created a proprietary set of processes to help organizations and its leadership find elegant solutions to complex problems in business and in society.

Over the years Tony has personally directed strategy consulting projects with companies such as Levi' Strauss & Co. Asia Pacific, Johnson and Johnson Medical Asia, Kellogg Asia Pacific, Pernod Ricard Taiwan, Philips Asia Pacific, Lego Education, McGraw Hill Education Asia, Abacus International, COTY China, Microsoft Asia Pacific, SPH Magazines Pte Ltd, Ascendas and the Ministry of Education Singapore. These projects involve the application of design methods to resolving problems such as strategy development, building revenue models, uncovering new consumer segments, optimizing distribution channels, product development and corporate transformation. In 2018, Tony delivered a full day Design module for Prudential's Global Hi-Potential Leadership Programme in Shenzen China, and a five-day Consumer-Design Lab for Maybank's wealth management team in Singapore.

Tony's formal training in design strategy, industrial design and design thinking comes from being an Apprentice of Arnold Wasserman (from 2002 to 2007) who has been the Chairman of The Idea Factory.

Tony is recognized as a global design leader and was invited to be a founding member of the Danish Design Advisory Committee (INDEX) in Copenhagen. Tony was also invited to contribute a chapter to the Austrian 2008 award-winning design book "10 Ideas that would change the world" that recognized 10 global design leaders and had also written a paper on design as innovation for the prestigious Cumulus Working Papers in 2005 which is a journal for top design schools around the world.

Back in Singapore, Tony has been teaching design strategy and thinking as a critical module of the Doctoral Programme in Innovation (DInn) and the Doctoral Programme in Business Administration (DBA) at the Singapore Management University's (SMU) LKC School of Business since 2016 to today. He also co-taught a 2016 undergraduate capstone module on Critical Issues in Higher Education at the SMU School of Social Sciences where design was used an approach for the transformation of education.

In terms of corporate experience from 2016 to 2018, Tony had been Director (and a member of the ExCO) of the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) Pte Ltd. He took on the role of Chief Marketing Officer where he led both the Brand & Marketing Division and the Regional Marketing & Recruitment Division. He was also involved in strategy development for the organization in 2016 when he led the Project "N" team.

From 2014 to 2016, Tony was the Chief Strategist with the Office of the Provost at the Singapore Management University. In that role, Tony was responsible for driving University-wide strategies such as the co-development of the SMU Academy (the University's adult learning model) and providing strategy direction to the Institute for Societal Leadership. This included a landmark Cross Industry Societal Collaboration Design Lab in Manila partnering PWC Singapore, PWC Philippines and the Ateneo University to help two social enterprises in agriculture-related sectors develop new business strategies.

From 2013 to 2014, Tony Lai was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of ARA Property Management Pte Ltd (reporting directly to the Deputy Chairman), the subsidiary of SGX-listed ARA Group. Tony's role involved Suntec City, Park Mall and commercial properties of the Straits Trading Company.

From 2009 to 2012, Tony was the Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ACE) at the Singapore Tourism Board. Tony led the strategy and planning group, the marketing group and the industry development groups. During this period Tony was responsible for the creation of the Asia 50 Best Restaurant List, opening of the Marina Bay Cruise Terminal and building design capabilities inside the firm. Tony was also part of the inaugural leadership team (1998-2001) at the Ministry of Manpower when it was transformed from the Ministry of Labour.

He is currently a member of Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business' Advisory Committee. He is also Advisor to the Timbre Group, Apollo Entertainment Pte Ltd and RSP Architects & Planners. Tony was a member of Singapore International Foundation's (SIF) Board of Governors from 2005 to 2012, a member of the Management Board of SJI (International) from 2009 to 2012 and a member of the Governing Council of Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) from 2002 to 2005.

Tony graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1996 with a Second Class Upper Honors Degree in Social Sciences (BSocSc) – specializing in Political Science and Public Policy. He has a Bachelor of Arts with Merit (BA) from NUS FASS in 1995 in Political Science, History and Philosophy.

[1][Dr Arnold Wasserman was the former Chief Design Office of Xerox Corporation & IDEO; and former Dean of the Pratt School for Design. More recently he was the 2013-14 Nierenberg Chair at the Carnegie Mellon School of Design and has recently released a new research paper on how design education has to be re-designed in 2018.]

Registration Information

Topic: Design Thinking Facilitation
Presenter: Mr Tony Lai
Date: 22 to 23 April 2019
Time: 9am to 5pm
Venue: Singapore Management University

Note: This workshop is cancelled and is merged with Design Thinking Workshop: The Innovation Protocol. For more information please click here.

For enquiries, please contact Josephine Teo at 6828 0591 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Who Should Attend?
Educators who have experience in practicing design thinking in their schools or organisations and would like to deepen their learning and expertise.

An assessment will be conducted at the end of the course.

In-House Training
If your school or organisation is interested to organise an in-house training on any of the Design Thinking topics below, the workshop will require a minimum of 10 participants and SkillsFuture Singapore funding is applicable for the in-house training. Please do not hesitate to contact Joseph Loy at email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or tel: 6363 0330 for further discussion.

Fees and Funding

SkillsFuture Series
Course fee grant at 70% of course fees (excluding GST) for participants who are successfully enrolled by SMU into approved courses under the Programme. Participants must be Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents.

SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy ("MCES")
Up to 90% of course fees for Singapore Citizens aged 40 years and above

Enhanced Training Support for SMEs ("ETSS")
Up to 90% of course fees; and 80% of basic hourly salary capped at $7.50/hr for local employees of SMEs

SkillsFuture Credit
Singapore Citizens aged 25 and above, and self-funding may use their SkillsFuture Credit (up to S$500) to defray part of the course fee. Please click User Guide on how to submit your claim. SkillsFuture Credit claims may be submitted by logging in via

Full Fee: S$1712.00 per pax (including GST)

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) Funding for Individuals:

  • Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents will pay S$513.60 (including GST) after SSG funding
  • Singapore Citizens aged 40 years and above will pay S$193.60 (including GST) after SSG funding


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