CM Ottawa Design Thinking Results 2018


To find out where CreativeMornings Ottawa can improve the day-of event experience, we did 2 design thinking workshops with 2 different groups of organizers and volunteers, each focusing on 1 attendee persona and their journey. Each group then voted on a specific pain/delight in the event, and sketch-stormed solutions for the particular pain/delight.

Key Findings

Generally, pre-talk/mingling, registration/check-in, and wayfinding experiences have the most room for improvement. How the participants feel/think after the event depends heavily on the talk, but the all want to have takeaways from the talk, whether they be tips or actual gifts from the speaker.

For an introvert and a newcomer to Ottawa, the biggest pain is the discomfort and anxiety during the pre-talk minglin: they feel hesitant towards participating in eye-catching side activities, and they’d rather hang out around the food section because it’s a safety zone. Otherwise, they’d wander aimlessly around the event space or choose a seat to sit down early. Another thing that provides comfort for them would be couches or sofa in the event space. If more people behave goofily, they’d feel less self-conscious.

For an extrovert and an active Ottawa community member, the biggest delight is to be recognized in the event and be connected to people. They want safe ice-breaker questions, so they can write tongue-in-cheek answers and not be too vulnerable right away. Some of them might want to talk to the speaker afterwards.

Selected Recommendations

  1. Hello _____ My Old Friend: Know and say regular attendee’s name at registration/check-in (i.e. “Nice to see you Chris!”)
  2. Slideshow-me-people-to-talk-to: Put out a call for long-time attendees who want to be on the pre-talk slides, for newbies to talk to. The slideshow will be auto-run during the mingling period. Good-to-haves: Random facts, Quote of the day, #Hashtags, @Mentions, Wifi password. Nice-to-have: if we can get more than 1 slideshow going.
  3. Shoutout to My Homie: Public recognition/validation for long-time attendees (i.e. Host giving someone a shout-out at an intro slide. Or sending a personal email before the event. Or let them take the stage for 1 minute.)
  4. Lifetime Achievement Swag: Specially customized swags (i.e. re-usable name tags, writable mug, t-shirt) for long-time attendees (after 10 events?)
  5. “Welcome To CM!” Kit: a sticker, a pin, and (optional) a ‘passport’ or punch-card where they collect each event they attended that year. Each month has its sections.
  6. Big CM Brother/Sister:  Put out call for ‘big brother/sister’ to pair them up with a newbie. Or involve long-time attendees in day-of process (i.e. have them at station to answer questions, let them do registration/check-in at one event, hand out swags)
  7. Classy Lounge Space: Chairs in circle near coffee & breakfast stations, in addition to chairs in theatre setting. Cocktail tables. Up to each event.
  8. Giant Yearbook: Take a picture (polaroid) with someone you don’t know, and put it on a big photo board. Has to be off to the side, with low barrier of entry. Big scroll through time/year.

We have yet to prioritize these recommendations on what to implement first. This can be something to do at the kick-off meeting. Prioritize based on 2 axises:

1. How easy it can be implemented

2. How big of a value it adds to our event.

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How do we track if our ideas worked or not?


Assuming our goal is to grow in total numbers of attendees per event, specifically returning members, so that they bring more new people, and so that they can give us testimonials.

Things to find out in the survey

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Chrissy, Rob, Marwan attended this session. See Emily’s Journey Map. We chose the “Anxious/Uncomfortable” feeling during pre-talk phase as the pain to problem-solve.

Question: How might we help the attendee feel at home the first 10 minutes they step into our event?

Based on this question, we sketch-stormed the following crazy solutions:

No shoes policy; trying to make the participants feel more like when they’re at home. (↑)

Make the event space smell like cooking, so it smells like coming home (↓)

Wearing different kinds of PJs means different things (top); Fireplace and hot chocolate around a comfortable sitting area (bottom)

The newbie has a ‘big brother’ or local guide to greet her at the event (top); Talking to people can be exhausting at the event, so we’ll provide cute puppies if people don’t want to talk to people. (bottom)

Rather than having icebreaker namtags, we show a slideshow with an official icebreaker conversation starter (top); on a slideshow during the mingling phase, we show some community members people should talk to. It will include facts about them as conversation starter. (bottom)

Mini burning man; people will have enough substances in them to be radically self-reliant and open and embracing to others. (top)

Big collaborative art project, it has to be on the side, non-intrusive, and has low-barrier of entry. (bottom)

Food collaboration project; kind of like the art collaboration project, but you assemble wonderful creations using breakfast food. (top)

On a slideshow, show networking tips, or creativity tips, during the mingling phase as talking prompts (bottom)

Newbie station & beginner’s kit: awesome swag for first-timers to take home (top)

Cool t-shirts and mugs for people to take home (bottom)


Taline, Liz, Lisa attended this session. See Will’s Journey Map.  We chose the “Get recognized at registration” goal during pre-talk phase as the delight to problem-solve.

Question: How might we help the attendee feel recognized/connected when they step into our event?

Based on this question, we sketch-stromed the following crazy solutions:

Special types of name tag stickers for long-time attendees; other attendees will know this person loves to talk. (top) Wanted poster of a newbie; for long-time at (bottom)

If the attendee is willing to look goofy, give them a over-the-top hat so people know they can talk to this person (top);

At registration table, the check-in volunteer will call the long-time attendee by their first name to make them feel validated (bottom)

Just like in devil wears prada, the host/check-in will know everyone’s name with the help of some assistants (top)

Registration people will know the long-time attendee’s first name (bottom)

During regular intervals at the event, the spotlights will shine on an extroverted, regular, event attendee (top)

When we see a regular attendee signed up for an event, the host, or an organizer will send a personal recognition email to the attendee a few days before the event. (bottom)

Host gives the attendee a shout out before the talk starts (top)

Having a slide-show run during pre-talk to publicly recognize a long-time attendee (bottom)

Give a special personalized swag (t-shirt) for a long-time attendee. (top)

Give a public shout-out to a long-time attendee during the talk intro. (bottom)

Give the long-time attendee a re-usable whiteboard/name tag with their name etched/printed on it (top)

Let long-time attendee help with registration (bottom)

After the talk, let a long-time attendee take the stage and talk about their experience at CM (top)

Registration person say the name of the long-time attendee when they check in (bottom)