Design Thinking Source


The Design Thinking Source approach is based on the fundamentals of the Hasso-Platner Institute of Design at Stanford University.

Design thinking is a fully immersive method of problem solving that is centered on the user, that is, the person the solutions serve. Best learned by doing, design thinking involves a series of steps that are divergent (creative) and convergent (analytic). This method has been proven to crack complex ambiguous problems ranging from the development of new products and services to entire processes and strategies for private and public ecosystems. We supplement the design thinking approach with additional tools and methods taken from Action Learning, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, and organizational development.

The Design Thinking Process includes 1) Empathize, 2) Define, 3) Ideate, 4) Prototype and 5) Test.

The basic steps in our approach are as follows:

  • Clarify the core challenge
  • Uncover the context underlying the challenge
  • Design an innovative and sustainable approach to the challenge
  • Formulate a make-it-stick plan


Design Training & Experiences

Our training and experiences are based on one of your organization's design challenges.

Design Thinking Coaching

We help you create a sustainable culture of innovation.

Our Team

Facilitators & Coaches

Chuck Appleby, Design Thinking Coach and Consultant

Chuck Appleby

Appleby & Associates

Chuck is the president of Appleby & Associates, a company that specializes in solving wicked problems associated with transformation and innovation. He integrates his passion and talents in design thinking, collaborative problem solving, strategy development, and change management to help companies develop effective and sustainable solutions.

Chuck has leveraged his entrepreneurial talents by starting two consulting companies, leading the new ventures group at two technology firms, and co-founding a non-profit whose mission is to spread experiential learning methods globally.

He is a change agent who brings innovative approaches to industry, government, and non-profits. He was the co-designer of the US Government's most successful acquisition center of excellence, and was a catalyst in the United Nation's environmental program's project to build the first energy-neutral building in the UN system.

Chuck's commitment to human-centered design has been put to use in a variety of organizations including Arlington County, Manulife Financial, the Minnesota Zoo, the United Nation's Environmental Program, and The George Washington University.

He has a BA in History and Economics (magna cum laude) from Dartmouth College, and a PhD (with distinction) in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.

Ethan Appleby, Design Thinking Coach and Consultant

Ethan Appleby


Ethan was trained as a design thinking coach from the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. He is passionate about design thinking as a means to transform culture in organizations and countries throughout the world. In one of his most recent engagements, he taught design thinking in a strategic initiative to transform the way citizens and other stakeholders are engaged in desicion-making in Arlington County, Virginia.

He also taught introductory design thinking exercises for the Abu Dhabi government, Hyatt Hotels, and the NextGov conference in Washington, DC. He founded design thinking UAE, a community with the aim of helping Emirati Design Thinkers work on worthwhile challenges as they strive to become a knowledge-based, economically diversified country.

As a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting and Good Harbor Consulting, Ethan worked with key business and political leaders on critical strategic issues. His work with non-profits, education organizations, as well as commercial and government entities, helped to create tangible benefits.

Ethan has a BA in Psychology and Economics from the University of Virginia.

Dana Mitroff Silvers, Design Thinking Coach and Consultant

Dana Mitroff Silvers

Design Thinking Consultant,

Dana Mitroff Silvers is a design thinking facilitator and digital strategy consultantwith expertise in nonprofits, cultural institutions, and educational organizations.

Dana has coached design thinking workshops for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, J. Paul Getty Trust, Stanford K12 Lab, Atlassian Software, Nonprofit Technology Network, John F. Kennedy University, Museum Computer Network, Academy of Art University, and Arlington County in Virginia. She was a design catalyst for Stanford Venture Lab's first open, online course on design thinking, and runs the popular blog Design Thinking for Museums.

She is the former Head of Online Services at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art(SFMOMA), where she oversaw the research, development, design, and production of the museum's award-winning site for over 10 years. At SFMOMA, she introduced design thinking and spearheaded a partnershipbetween the museum and Stanford's

Dana holds an MA in Art History from The University of Chicago, and a BA in Journalism from the University of Southern California.

AndresMarquez-Lara, Design Thinking Coach and Consultant

Andres Marquez-Lara

Founder and President,
Promethean Community

Andres is experienced and passionate in facilitating the creation of human-centered approaches. He integrates his passion for collaborative problem solving, creativity, and improvisational performance to bring diverse groups of people together to explore and improve team dynamics, as well as nourish strength-based leadership perspectives.

He has taught design thinking for non-profits, government, businesses, and universities in the U.S. and Latin America, including INCAE Business schools, one of the top business schools in Latin America.

He is also the founder of Promethean Community LLC. They create transformative group experiences to support communities improve communication, collaboration and trust so that they can address their own health needs. Their approach uses highly engaging, interactive, arts-based approaches. Their work was recognized by Ashoka and American Express when they named Andres one of the 2014 emerging social innovators.

Andres has a graduate degree in Clinical Community Psychology from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Duke University, with a Certificate in Human Development. He is a Senior Fellow at the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership.

Mariana Balgurevich, Design Thinking Consultant

Mariana Balgurevich

Design Thinking Consultant

Mariana is an experienced design thinking consultant. She believes that radical change is needed in the way organizations approach the creation of both success and sustainable growth. Mariana's practical approach to fostering innovation starts with asking powerful questions to clarify the design challenge. Next, she uses her extraordinary ability to empathize with clients and help them uncover both unmet and unstated needs. She uses simple and easily understood tools drawn from a variety of organization development models to develop creative and viable solutions, and she leverages her innate ability to connect diverse groups of people to get buy-in for change. Finally, she empowers organizations to carry forth human-centered design on their own by creating sustainable communities of practice.

As a design thinking coach and facilitator, Mariana has worked with a number of organizations including Arlington County (Virginia), The Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Northern Virginia Family Service. She has designed and delivered workshops to solve complex problems that have not responded to traditional methods of problem solving. She is a passionate advocate and has spread the philosophy and impact of human-centered design in conferences and workshops.

Mariana has a Master of Science in Organization Development and Knowledge Management from George Mason University, and a BA in Business Administration from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, in Argentina.

Companies with Design Thinking
Karen Hold

Karen Hold

Design Thinking Consultant

Karen Hold is a design strategist who specializes in building creative capacity in individuals, organizations and cities. She thrives on helping her clients innovate and adapt to a rapidly changing competitive landscape. Karen has extensive industry experience across many sectors including telecommunications, consumer packaged goods, publishing, non-profits and education.

A P&G-trained brand marketer, Karen saw firsthand how P&G drove revenue and profit growth with innovation. Inspired by her experience, Karen founded her own small business, a publishing company, and built sales through innovative marketing partnerships with Forbes and BusinessWeek magazines.

As the Publisher, Karen successfully shared the business results of clients in the financial, healthcare, arts, government, education, telecommunications, high-tech, entertainment and non-profit markets. Her clients included AT&T, Alcatel, Cisco, MCI, Nokia, Nortel Networks and NEC.

Design strategy allows Karen to create value at the intersection of her passions for storytelling, innovation, strategy and design. Karen is a graduate of Duke University and Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. She is the Director of DT:DC, a 4,500-member MeetUp group in Washington, DC, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland and a Visiting Executive Lecturer at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

Chad McAllister, Design Thinking Consultant

Chad McAllister

Product Innovation Educators

Chad trains product managers and coaches organizations to create products that their customers love and that produce value for stakeholders. He founded Product Innovation Educators after 20+ years in product development and management, earning a PhD focused on innovation, and working with startups as well as global companies. He works with all levels of an organization in an integrated manner, aligning organizational strategy and culture with innovation strategy, to create the foundations necessary for product innovation. He uses Design Thinking, Customer Discovery, Lean Startup/Enterprise, and other approaches depending on organizational product development maturity and needs.

In addition to a PhD, Chad has MS and BS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He has earned certifications from several professional organizations, including PMI, PDMA, and AIPMM. Further, he led the development of the Certified Innovation Leader program for the Association of International Product Marketing and Management. The program prepares product managers, product marketers, and innovators to lead new product creation by understanding and applying ideation and innovation methodologies. It covers the very beginning of product creation (the managed front end), frequently used product innovation approaches and tools, and a product development process to manage risk. It is the most comprehensive program AIPMM offers, integrating aspects of product management and product marketing.

Chad also teaches innovation management in several graduate programs, including Boston University, Colorado State University, and Walden University. He hosts a popular weekly podcast, The Everyday Innovator, for product managers, developers, and innovators.

Companies with Design Thinking
Elizabeth Hauler, Design Thinking Consultant

Elizabeth Hauler

Design Thinking Consultant

Elizabeth helps leaders and teams increase effectiveness, broaden thinking, identify strengths and development needs, and set and achieve challenging goals. She has 17 years of experience building high-performing leaders and teams. She studied design thinking with Dr. Chuck Appleby and has used her skills most recently with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and John Hancock Financial Services in Boston.

As a leadership coach, Elizabeth partners with clients who want to work more effectively with their team members and colleagues to influence change, resolve conflicts, and define and grow their capacity as leaders. Her clients include work in the federal government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Elizabeth advanced her leadership and interpersonal skills in customer service, sales, and people management roles in the legal information services industry. She excelled at coaching, developing people, and helping them prepare for their next role. She led hundreds of group and individual attorney trainings and negotiated new and retention business with large law firms on the east coast.

She earned certificates in Leadership Coaching and Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership from Georgetown University, a law degree from Ohio Northern University, and a B.A. in Government from the College of William and Mary.

Shelly Frank

Shelly Frank

Design Thinking Consultant

Shelly is a cross-industry, highly energetic and passionate business development, marketing and operations leader with a career track record of driving business results using practical, creative and innovative strategies. She has a desire for driving growth and transformative change across multi-departmental initiatives using a collaborative mentoring and development approach to drive performance within teams and business units of varying sizes.

She is a certified professional in organizational relationships & systems, and executive coaching. She loves spending time with friends on furthering leading-edge technologies in human development and innovation.

Melissa O'Hara

Melissa O'Hara

Design Thinking Consultant

Melissa has a passion for the creativity and unique problem solving that the Design Thinking framework enables. She has experience in launching new products using Design Thinking including a new insurance product targeting millennials. Her primary area of focus using the methodology is in Human Resource related applications. This included developing a workforce of the future methodology for a major Fortune 500 company to develop creative action plans to as well as staying relevant as an employer based on changing marketplace needs, increasing retention, and engagement. She also has worked on developing strategies regarding Employee Experience including conducting empathy interviews for key segments of the employee journey.

Another Design Thinking skill Melissa brings to life is her unique Horizon Life Design approach. This methodology takes the foundational elements of Design Thinking and applies them in creating human centered solutions for career and life planning. Participants benefit from hands-on use of tools where they gain alignment with their personal values and professional role; learn methods to reframe current challenges and create new possible solutions; and develop skills to design and run prototypes of what their life might be. Horizon Life Design can be used for individuals or top talent cohorts to increase employee engagement.


3-Day Public Design Thinking Bootcamp | Date and Location TBD

During our 3-day design thinking bootcamp, you will be guided through a 5-step iterative process — Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test — while working on a collaborative challenge, and you will learn how to apply this iterative process in your own work environment.

The Learning Outcomes

  • Build increased confidence in each participant's ability to think and act creatively
  • Provide participants with a high-impact developmental program that immerses them in "learning by doing"
  • Provide tools for creating new products, services, business strategies, and customer experiences
  • Engage participants in a new way of interacting with internal and external customers to discern their wants and needs

Details on our next bootcamp are forthcoming.

Our Clients

Case Studies

Arlington County Design Thinking Project Captures National Attention.The challenge given to a team of future leaders in Arlington County was to increase the level of engagement of “thirty somethings,” teenagers, and new immigrants in the County’s Library System. The success of their project is captured on a video recently released by the Alliance for Innovation at their annual Innovation Academy.

Team Photo