Pacific Gas & Electric

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


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, Leading the Energy Network of Tomorrow. 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. The Leadership and Employee Development group recognized design thinking as a tool to help achieve these goals.


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 course. 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 course 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.

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.


Project showcase
A project showcase poster summarizing impacts on a Marketing project.

We trained PG&E employees from dozens of Lines of Business and various locations throughout Northern California.

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 was 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


I will apply interviewing techniques to be a better listener. The difference between “yes, and” vs. “no, but” is powerful for promoting innovative ideas in the work place.
PG&E course participant
I learned to think outside the box, and that sometimes a simple (solution) is right in front of us.
PG&E course participant
I plan to use my new interviewing skills by talking with users prior to considering changing processes. I also plan to use the “How Might We” method in my daily interactions and decision-making.
PG&E course participant
­I gained powerful hands-­on tools for generating innovative ideas with my team.
PG&E course participant