Research and ideation workshops

Brainwork: research and ideation workshop for social good is an event we hosted for our CSR beneficiaries. The idea was to bring a group of creatives under one roof and let them do what they’re best at – research and innovate.


We invited representatives of two NGO’s to take part in the event:
▪ The ecological association Natura i Człowiek (Nature and Human), whose activity focuses on pollinators,
▪ Przystanek Rodzina (Family Safe Haven), which provides social assistance to children who are in foster care and to their families.

Business problem

The challenge

Objectivity is engaged in various corporate social responsibility activities, and our relations with different NGOs have taught us that people working in those organizations are often very busy with their everyday work. We also know that they appreciate know-how and consultancy to address management of their structures, identification of business opportunities, innovation etc. With this awareness and with experience in organizing design workshops focused on providing IT solutions for NGOs, we set out to find a framework for a consultancy event  that would provide value for our NGO partners.

What we did

Our action

Preparations for the workshops took several weeks. We analysed previous undertakings done in concert with our clients and NGOs in order to find the perfect workshop formula. After several iterations of brainstorming sessions where we discusses the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, we settled on a very open formula. We matched User Experience, marketing, business, and product professionals with representatives of our beneficiaries to create teams working on topics they selected. Participants were divided into six groups given the freedom of selecting the issue they wanted to tackle. We didn’t impose any particular process on them, but we suggested an approach under which the teams would first do research in order to find out more about the NGOs problems, then dive into the creative fun. The lack of a strictly defined agenda gave the teams freedom to iterate on research and ideation sessions in loops. This afforded them the chance to revisit their ideas and improve them in an iterative manner. The main goal of Brainwork was to deliver turnkey solutions ready to be implemented immediately after the workshop. We wanted to deliver real value, which was reflected in the three principles we asked to be followed during the workshop:

  • You are free to create any solution you want in consultation with the NGO representatives
  • We’re not designing software solutions
  • Any solution created must be easy for an NGO to implement without further support from you
How it looked

The event

Brainwork was a two-day event. We started on Friday afternoon with a registration and networking session. This was followed by introductions and a review of the goals and guidelines of our event, with emphasis placed on the three principles detailed above. Around 7:00 PM the teams got down to work. Since every team included one team member who was an employee or volunteer in one of the NGOs attending, the first thing most teams did was conduct an interview with their NGO representative. Teams quickly started to mix and mingle, exchanging ideas and inviting representatives of NGOs from different teams for quick Q&A sessions. Many teams engaged in desk research that also included talking online to friends and colleagues capable of offering relevant knowledge. The research–ideation loop started and continued through the evening on Friday and lasted until Saturday afternoon. During that time, Objectivity employees worked in the background helping out the teams when needed. We didn’t interfere in their work but rather tried to consult with them on their approaches and design thinking exercises if needed.

The workshop with Objectivity was a great chance for us to gain new, exciting experiences. We met people working in different fields, which gave us a new perspective on the development of our organisation. New know-how has been acquired, and we received inspiration to act in areas which were previously out of our reach, or at least which we thought were. Thank you for giving us the opportunity for continuous development.
Aneta Sikora
Nature and Human
What we achieved

The result

Brainwork 2018 produced great results that the participating NGOs have benefited from. A similar approach can be applied in business activities. The very flexible format of a design thinking workshop can be tailored to serve many purposes. Depending on the assumed outcome of the workshop, participants can consist of business stakeholders, product target audience representatives, or a mix of both. Additionally, Objectivity User Experience Specialists can join these groups to consult design thinking methods and streamline the conversation.

If you want to know more about this case, feel free to contact us.