Cadmium University

Pathways to Innovation in Professional Development : From Informal to Intentional

Recorded On: 12/06/2018


Most associations rely on informal processes to guide innovation with their education programs.  Too often professional development staff and volunteer leaders “design at the white board.” Without a validated understanding of the challenges their members face, leaders fall into the trap of costly program development that they ultimately discover does deliver an adequate return on their investment. 

Design thinking is a human-centered and systematic approach to innovation that provides you with tools for discovering unmet needs of your members. By focusing on empathy and iteration, the design thinking process helps you create solutions that are grounded in the experience of your stakeholders and informed by their feedback through a co-creation process. Involving your members throughout the process, you ensure that you focus in on solving important problems for your members. You also protect your organization from investing in programs that flop. See how this works through a case study of an association that applied this method to their program development.

In the webinar you will:

  • Learn what design thinking is.
  • Discover how to use this approach in designing innovative, cutting edge professional development programs.
  • Review methods for co-creation that work for association programs and services.

Carol Hamilton


Carol Hamilton is principal at Grace Social Sector Consulting, LLC. She helps associations and nonprofits become more strategic and innovative for greater mission impact by providing organization effectiveness consulting, meeting design and facilitation, and training to organizations.

A strategic thinker, Carol has worked with teams and organizations to envision and frame their future strategic direction. Practical in her approach, she helps organizations think through who is key to creating their future, how to gather insights from these stakeholders, consider the big picture, imagine new possibilities, come to agreement on their future goals and create an initial action plan to get started.

Carol led multiple design thinking projects while at NAFSA, including a project which won an innovation grant from ASAE. She participated in Design Thinking DC’s 2015 Summer of Design and was part of the winning team and mentored a team this past summer.

With more than 25 years of experience in the associations and nonprofit sectors, Carol facilitates sessions frequently on leadership, strategy and innovation topics. She graduated from Swarthmore College and has her Masters in Organization Development from American University.

Components visible upon registration.