Join us Online June 22–26, 2020

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The online course will be held from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm EST each of the five days. You will get the opportunity to listen to lectures, participate in Zoom breakout rooms, and engage with other attendees!

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Our world has been fundamentally changed by the global pandemic. Consumer behaviors have been radically altered by quarantines, economic shocks, and future uncertainty. The changing consumer landscape offers both challenges and opportunities for product developers and food companies.

Our virtual five-day short course will teach you the fundamentals of design thinking and give you hands on experience with a selection of design thinking tools that you can use to uncover post-COVID consumer needs and shape your organization’s innovation efforts. 

Whether your company makes consumer products, ingredients, packaging, or machinery – this workshop provides basic concepts in design thinking and brings those concepts to life with small group exercises. Over the course of five days you’ll practice techniques to discover unmet consumer needs, define problems and value propositions, pitch concepts, and get customer feedback.

Workshop Agenda

This short course is structured as a series of five two-hour, synchronous training sessions. Participants will be required to complete homework assignments in-between sessions. Participants are expected to participate in all sessions. Sessions will rely on a combination of lecture and small group work as participants “learn by doing” and practice applying design thinking tools.

Each day of this course focuses on a different step in the design thinking process. Over the course of five days participants will take a worked example from opportunity identification through to consumer testing and iteration.

Day 1: Using Empathy to Identify Post-COVID Opportunities for Innovation
June 22, 11am-1pm EDT

  • What is the best starting point for creating new products?
  • How do we identify “fertile ground” for identifying post-COVID opportunities?
  • How do we understand shifting consumer needs post-COVID?
  • How can we gain a deeper understanding of customers?

Day 2: Defining Problems Worth Solving
June 23, 11am-1pm EDT

  • How do we aggregate insights from user-centered research?
  • What methods add clarity depth to our understanding of the problem?
  • How do we decide which problems are worth solving?
  • How can we separate post-COVID fads from lasting trends?

Day 3: Brainstorming and Prioritizing
June 24, 11am-1pm EDT

  • Where do good ideas come from?
  • How can we generate solutions that are not just “more of the same”?
  • How can the principles of improv improve our ideation sessions?
  • After generating many ideas, how do we identify the good ideas?

Day 4: Prototyping Solutions
June 25, 11am-1pm EDT

  • What is the purpose of prototyping?
  • What are the right ways and wrong ways to use prototyping?
  • How do we use low-fidelity prototypes to validate solutions?

Day 5: Testing and Iterating with Customers
June 26, 11am-1pm EDT

  • Why is it necessary to test early concepts with customers?
  • How is customer testing changing post-COVID?
  • What methods can we use to run faster customer facing experiments?
  • What are the “do’s” and “don’ts” of customer testing?







Susan Mayer
Innovation Advisor (Food and Ag Lead)
RTI Innovation Advisors

Certified Food Scientist Susan Mayer is a creative problem-solver with strong communication skills to complement her technical expertise in food science, technology and manufacturing. Susan believes that the human-centered design perspective – because of its focus on the consumer – makes all the difference when innovating. Notable projects of hers include leading landscapes on food processing technologies, assessing technologies that enhance food safety, building an external expert panel for a food company looking to expand its product reach,  and developing manufacturing and food safety frameworks for food companies to evaluate and select co-manufacturers. A past-chair of IFT’s Central New Jersey Section, Susan has an M.S. in Food Science and a B.S. in Foods from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD.



Jim Redden
Innovation Advisor
RTI Innovation Advisors

Jim Redden works with corporations, governments and universities to deploy design thinking to improve their innovation processes and outcomes; currently, he focuses on strategic foresight and the application of design thinking tools for digital transformation. An expert at facilitating innovation, he understands the complexities of organizational initiatives and applies best practices to help teams solve new challenges. Previously, Jim worked as a chemical engineer and as a high school physics and biology teacher. He has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.



Amanda Rose
Innovation Advisor
RTI Innovation Advisors

Amanda Rose brings to clients a skillset in facilitation, design, research, and project management combined with a generative mindset for envisioning future systems change. For more than a decade, she’s has been creating, testing, and applying design thinking approaches in her work with philanthropic donors, governments, and others. Amanda has used design thinking throughout her career to shape large-scale systems change initiatives in food and agriculture across the globe. She received a B.S. in Chemistry and in Interdisciplinary Studies from North Carolina State University and an M.S. in International Science and Technology Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.