Design Thinking Trainings: Pacific Gas & Electric Company

Pacific Gas & Electric

Client: Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Project: Custom Design Thinking trainings
Location: San Ramon, CA


Project showcase
A project showcase poster summarizing the impact of design thinking on a  Marketing project.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, the company employs 24,000 people who deliver energy to 16 million California residents.

PG&E’s Leadership and Employee Development group approached Designing Insights about providing customized workshops in design thinking as part of a new, company-wide leadership training program. The program brought together cohorts of supervisors and managers through a blend of traditional classroom learning, business simulations, and workshops.

With rapid changes in the future of the energy industry, PG&E needs innovative leaders who can lead through change and develop solutions that are customer focused and user-centered.


Pacific Gas & Electric Company materialsAfter delivering a pilot workshop, we worked closely with the instructional designers and learning specialists in PG&E’s Leadership and Employee Development group over nearly a year to design and develop a customized design thinking course that could be scaled and delivered multiple times. Our content and curriculum needed to complement the other components of the program, teach critical skills and mindsets, and be applicable to participants’ real-world projects.

It was particularly important that the courses address the unique challenges of applying a design thinking approach to problem solving in a highly regulated and safety-conscious environment, and prepare participants to affect change within their own spheres of influence. All participants received printed copies of our custom Design Thinking Quick Reference Guide to refer to as they leverage and apply design thinking moving forward.

We also underwent a rigorous certification process with the California Public Utilities Commission’s Supplier Diversity Program, and we are proud to be certified as a woman-owned business through the program.


Prototype testing at PG&E
PG&E employees testing a prototype.

We trained PG&E employees from dozens of Lines of Business and various locations throughout Northern California. We delivered our course four times, iterating and refining each time based on participant feedback.

Participants applied design thinking tools, methods, and mindsets to real-world business problems, and presented their projects and results to company executives in public project showcases.

The project outcomes included significant financial savings, reduced time spent by staff in the field, and increased customer satisfaction rates. For example, one customer-facing project in Marketing has been projected to save $350,00 in marketing costs annually and to deliver a customer satisfaction rate of 93%.

Participants in the program also reported significant impacts on business metrics:

  • 100% of participants reported improved team communications
  • 89% of participants reported increased team innovation behaviors
  • 88% of participants reported higher team engagement


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