The King’s U team wins Design Thinking Challenge

Cindy MacDougall

Results are in from the second annual Royal Roads Design Thinking Challenge, with The King’s University’s Leder School of Business team taking home top honours.

This year’s challenge, sponsored by the Eric C. Douglass Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Downtown Victoria Business Association, asked nine teams of students to find ways to encourage more people to spend time downtown. At each stage of the challenge, the teams refined their ideas and gleaned insight from experts, each other and people who visit and avoid the downtown core.

The King’s University team snagged first place for their idea to create the Family Friendly Victoria campaign. Downtown businesses would be certified as safe and friendly places for families with children to visit, and small attractions would be installed throughout the downtown core to give families fun, free activities.

Anna Lodewyk, a member of the winning team and third-year Bachelor of Commerce student, says the challenge was a “transformative experience.”

“One of the best parts of this competition was the ability to collaborate and gain information from any available source,” Lodewyk says. “With the help of the other teams, we were able to learn so much more.

“I now think design thinking is applicable in almost any situation where new ideas need to be discovered and problems need to be solved, which is very relevant to business students and to whatever career we choose.”

Second place was awarded to the team from HEC Montréal, last year’s challenge winners. The teams from McMaster University and Royal Roads University tied for third place.

The Royal Roads team also received the Design Thinking Insight award. Chosen by participant vote, this award honours the team that most contributed to other teams’ understanding and insight.

“The Royal Roads team contributed in significant ways to the learning of all participants,” says challenge co-organizer and School of Business associate faculty member Michael Pardy. “The team members were consummate hosts, sharing local information and their own research in the spirit of collaboration.”

The Downtown Victoria Business Association will review the teams’ ideas as it considers how to attract more people downtown, says Executive Director Jeff Bray.

“That these teams found this level of insight over a week is incredible. As the client for these ideas, my mind is just whirling on how we can use all of them,” Bray says.

“They had such great solutions. Using the design thinking process forced the teams not to go for the low-hanging fruit, but to dig deeper.”