Balboa Park

Balboa ParkClient: Balboa Park
Project: Custom Design Thinking Bootcamp
Location: San Diego, CA


Home to museums, performing arts venues, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park in San Diego is the nation’s largest urban cultural park. The Balboa Park Learning Institute (BPLI) is is a professional education program and learning community for staff and volunteers in arts, science, and cultural institutions in the Park. In 2013, BPLI launched a Park-wide customer service initiative to identify and articulate what outstanding customer service in the Park looks like and develop a Park-wide training for all organizations. The initiative brought together 33 participants from 17 institutions who had never worked together before. BPLI wanted a framework for collaboration and group process, and actionable concepts for customer service training modules.

Approach + Impact

We produced a custom, two-day design thinking bootcamp in which we worked with staff to guide their efforts around improving the customer experience in the Park. Our goal was not only to introduce staff to the principles of human-centered design, but to leave them with actionable steps for developing the training program. The group is now applying the design thinking process to the development of customer service training modules in institutions across the Park.

This video depicts the participants in action in our design thinking workshop. You can see glimpses of them testing their prototypes (including a prototype made of school chairs and cardboard for an electric mini car that visitors can rent inside the park!) and working with their teams using the requisite Post-its and flip charts.

Our work with (Designing Insights) has given us invaluable tools to solve complex problems through an empathetic, user-centered approach.
Lisa Silagyi, Balboa Park Learning Institute