Stepping Stones Partners with Deloitte to Teach Design Thinking!

Deloitte (or DTT) is a global professional services network that provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and legal services. Serving over 150 countries and areas worldwide, Deloitte provides services for approximately 80% of Fortune 500 companies and has approximately 312,000 professionals globally. In China, Deloitte established a branch office in Shanghai in 1917 and has had a presence in the country since then. Deloitte China is the DTT member firm in China and currently provides a full range of audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and legal services for clients located in China. Deloitte China has also contributed significantly to developments in China’s accounting standards, tax system, and professional training.

A professional international firm always has a set of well-used and effective policies and methods, as well as a strong sense of responsibility for society. For this reason, Deloitte’s team contacted Stepping Stones in an effort to better understand how to help China’s disadvantaged children. In particular, Deloitte highly commended our Stepping Up program’s teaching goals and ideals.

Stepping Up is a computer and life skills training program established by Stepping Stones in 2016. The program helps rural Chinese children to be better prepared for their futures after leaving school by teaching digital literacy skills common to the modern workplace. While we emphasize interaction between student and teacher, our classes are also designed to unleash creativity, encourage communication, develop critical thinking, and increase each student’s confidence, helping them look towards their future with excitement.

After weeks of online meetings and discussions, Deloitte’s team decided to help Stepping Stones’ Stepping Up program develop a design thinking curriculum. In nonprofit teaching, Deloitte has always emphasized design thinking, and it is also an area that the team’s experts and volunteers specialize in.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a process that attempts to solve specific problems for set groups of people via innovative and meaningful ideas. Using innovation, design thinking aids professionals in creating unique solutions to the problems they face. After various scholars discussed the idea of “design thinking”, IDEO became the first company to integrate design thinking into corporate problem solving. IDEO’s founder, David Kelley, later went on to found the, or Stanford University’s design institute.

Stanford’s design institute splits design thinking into five large processes: empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and test.

Deloitte’s and Stepping Stones’ teams believe that design thinking can help children improve their ways of thinking, unleash their imagination, and help develop creativity.

A Long-term, Serious Curriculum Development Process

Our design thinking curriculum’s development happened over a course of almost half a year – we began the process at the end of 2019. Deloitte invited many creative and experienced employees to participate in creating and designing class modules, as well as various experts in design thinking, who provided insightful feedback for our curriculum. After reviewing our many years of past experience in teaching and our observations of our students, Stepping Stones’ team suggested a theme of “Wildlife Conservation” for the curriculum: to students, animals are an interesting and engaging topic.

Once again, we wish to thank the Deloitte team’s unending efforts and attention to detail in designing the curriculum. Our module design underwent as many as five major changes, and we also adjusted various details regarding color schemes and font types to make our PPTs more appealing to students. At the same time, we attempted to make in-class activities engaging and fun for students.

As we are now in our final month of development, our final product will be revealed to everyone very soon! We will also start our trial class sessions in mid-August. It is our genuine hope that our design thinking classes will help develop and unleash students’ creativity and curiosity, helping them better cope with the challenges posed by this era and age.