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The Change Management Game: a fast and fun exercise in applying design/thinking to digital transformation

Mary Wharmby, Grace Ascuasiati

02 Feb, 4:00 pm

4 h

This workshop will use a gamified dynamic to present an emerging design-oriented approach to change management. It will connect the parallel needs of top-down digital transformation with bottom-up employee empowerment.


“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

As designers, we are often on the front-line of digital transformation. The very products and services we create can act as triggers for change across the rest of the organization. And when not approached holistically, product and service innovation can even lead to friction with other, more traditional teams like Finance, Risk, Procurement, and HR. For this reason, designers frequently find themselves with the incentive, but not the power, to drive internal change.

This workshop aims to set up designers to be more effective change agents within their organizations through a fun, hands-on exercise in change management. Based on our experiences in the workplace and from teaching, we will craft a fictional organization and narrative to make change management through design relevant, understandable, and doable.

Participants will work in teams driving change from both bottom-up and top-down perspectives. As the change narrative unfolds, we will introduce additional real-world elements like headcount and budget cuts, pivots, and new leadership.

We will conclude with a group post-mortem about the exercise, our learnings, and next steps for bringing change back to each participant’s own organization.

Here are a few of the key themes related to digital transformation which we will explore:

  • The importance of from where/who the change “ask” comes.

  • Efficient and effective ways for gaining context, grounding, and reframing the effort around human needs.

  • Ways for analyzing the organization in order to discover and leverage existing building blocks for change.

  • Defining, building and testing a change MVP.

  • Finally, tips and techniques for going beyond the water’s edge and into the crucial work of implementation.

Meet the speakers

Mary Wharmby


Digital Employee Experience Strategist at US Bank

I am a designer, strategist, and educator. After many years guiding teams in the creation of customer-facing products and services, I have shifted focus to the design of human systems and the integration of design thinking and change management. This effort has been deeply informed by my work as Head of Design Transformation at BBVA where I architected and led a team dedicated to driving innovation by strategically infusing design thinking across the entire organization.

Since then, I have worked with the UN to drive gender parity in hiring and foster a culture of health and safety at their global work sites. I have also co-developed a course entitled: Change Management through Design for the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. Today I am helping US Bank transform their employee experience to one of engagement, innovation, and empowerment.

Grace Ascuasiati


UX Research Manager for Santander Universities

"I'm a design researcher and facilitator with broad experience helping teams work with the user in mind, fostering culture change and activating creativity. My background in design research has been key in transformation initiatives where understanding both stakeholders and clients is necessary in order to generate processes, projects, and training that align company strategy and culture with people’s needs.

I have experience developing the design transformation program for BBVA, and working with companies like Huawei, Telefonica, etc. to help their teams scale and grow their innovation capabilities.

I teach design research and facilitation at the European Institute of Design and IE Business School in Madrid, and I currently lead the UX Research practice at Santander Universities."

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