• keldavison

Association for Talent Development (ATD) improves the member experience using Design Thinking

Updated: Jul 8



Human-Centered Design Thinking offers membership organizations a way to educate their members while delivering new insights and ideas around the member experience. Recently, The Design Academy conducted a workshop for the Association for Talent Development (ATD), a national membership organization for learning and development professionals. Positive outcomes included the highest attendance and engagement in a chapter meeting, several tangible ideas on how to improve the member experience, and a member journey map to use as future inspiration.


Mary Jane Riccardi, President of the San Diego Chapter of ATD, introduced Human-Centered Design Thinking to her chapter members in February of 2019. She invited The Design Academy to facilitate a workshop around improving the member experience for the learning and development organization. For two-hours, members participated in an interactive design thinking session that resulted in a of connection for the members and leaders and the opportunity to share creative ideas to enhance the member experience. Ready to kick-off the year with new energy, Mary Jane implementation of multiple outcomes and continues to use the feedback to inspire the evolution of the local chapter.

“We are the leading resource for inspiring, growing, and connecting talent and organizational development professionals in San Diego. In order to drive our mission forward, we needed to better understand our member's current experience with ATD San Diego as well as what they wanted to see in the future.


“2018 was a difficult year for ATD San Diego. Although we had the excitement of the international conference in May, the rest of the year was lack luster with very few events our members could attend. The board saw 2019 as an opportunity to relaunch our programs, however our annual survey has little participation and does not really provide much guidance to use for future planning. As President, I wanted to find a way to engage our membership in group conversation to elicit feedback that would be meaningful in helping us achieve our vision and mission, but I knew we needed a WIIFM for folks to attend.


“For example, we received a lot of feedback about member's onboarding experiences. This is one area that is of great concern since we received so many comments about being lost, uncomfortable, unsure, confused, etc. This needs to change so we better engage with our current members, bring in new members and set them up with a positive first impression.

“In addition to providing ATD San Diego leadership with feedback, the purpose of this session was to not only teach, but experience a tool that could be used in just about any setting or workplace. By using the methodology provided at this chapter meeting, participants would be able to better understand their internal customer needs which in turn would improve the T&D service they provide.



Participants included internal and external providers, junior and senior professionals, members and potential members. We were thrilled to see such a variety of people register. Our registration for this event was up approx. 40% from our typical attendance.

“I am happy to say we have several recommendations that came from the event that we are currently working on as continuous improvement efforts. 1) A redesigned and updated website. 2) Establishment of a membership committee while we recruit a membership director (we have been without one for several years). 3) Ideas for chapter events and content for Q4 and into next year.”


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