Look back at BLEND 2017

march 04, 2017

stratford, on

"I absolutely loved this event, it was superbly organized, the content was amazing, the food was great, the frequency and length of lectures kept the content varied and listeners engaged."

Attendee who filled out our event survey :)

2017 Speakers

Tom Creighton headshot


Design Director

Robert Barlow-Busch headshot


Head of Design

Chenny Xia headshot



Linn Vizard headshot


Service Designer
Service Design Toronto

Elina Lawrie headshot


Service Designer
Service Design Toronto

Dayton Pereira headshot


Signal UX

Christine Zoltok headshot


UX Designer

Andres Ospina headshot


Design Thinking Coach

Janice Wong headshot


Senior Design & Insights Lead

Chelsea Omel headshot


Manager, Service Design & Strategy
TELUS Digital

Robert Hayes headshot


‍Foundation PM

Karin Schmidlin headshot


UX & Innovation Professor
University of Waterloo

Patrick Bach headshot


Senior Manager, Experience Design
TD Bank

Jessica Fan headshot


Systems Change Consultant
Reos Partners

2017 Schedule

8:00 AM

Bus Departure from Waterloo

For those coming from Kitchener-Waterloo, the buses will be departing from Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo Main Campus at 8:00 AM to arrive at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus for 8:45am.

8:45 AM

Registration & Breakfast

Welcome! Upon arriving to the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, pick-up your name tag at the front desk.

Breakfast and beverages will be served to kick-off the event.

9:45 AM

Talk: Designing for Disruptive Innovation

Sometimes we get so focused on winning small victories of the present that we’re blindsided by huge issues we simply didn't seeing coming. This case study tells the story of a product team who experienced this alarming truth first-hand and learned some lasting lessons as a result.Like any good tale, the story features heroes, villains, and dramatic twists. Hear how product management and user experience joined forces to tackle a serious threat to the business — so serious that revenue was already sharply declining. Learn how field research with customers busted some big assumptions and, to everyone’s delight, uncovered an incredible opportunity.But that’s not where the story ends. Find out what happened when the team presented that golden opportunity to executives wrestling with disruptive innovation. The shocking outcome holds important lessons for product teams everywhere.

10:30 AM

Talk: Piggybacking Other User Experiences

Many of the products that have become staples of our everyday lives have cottage industries of products and services springing up around them. There are financial services for Uber drivers and host-recruiting services for Airbnb. There is a huge opportunity in building value added services around other platforms, but that means you need to build around the user experience they have already created. Designing experiences that piggyback on existing products and services means you need to understand the context, barriers and opportunities they have created, and design within them.

11:00 AM

Morning Workshops: Select 1 to participate in!

* Select 1 of the following workshops to attend:

1. The Art of Stakeholder - Markus Grupp (Director, Digital Experience - Indigo), Chelsea Omel (Manager, Service Design & Strtegy - TELUS) and Patrich Bach (Senior Manager, Experience Design - TD)Design Thinking is a misnomer. Getting stakeholders to think in customer centric manner is a relatively easy achievement and yields little in terms of actual change. Doing is the real challenge and a far more significant accomplishment. How might we truly drive change and put service design into practice? This requires more than stakeholder support - it requires commitment, trust and active participation in a process that can be unfamiliar or evening frightening in a corporate environment. Stakeholder workshops are an opportunity to challenge the worldview of your stakeholders and expose them to the truths of customer behaviour. It’s an opportunity to transform them from supporters to believers by creating an environment where they can experience the magic of a user-centred collaborative process. This is no easy task, the workshop itself is very much like a performance piece. It has to be carefully designed, choreographed and staffed by capable people with the right skillsets.

2. Design Thinking Crash Course - Andres Ospina (Design Thinking Coach - RBC)Regardless of your background, role, context or area of expertise, you always have problems to solve. Design Thinking provides empathetic and scientific methods for solving problems that empower you to design validated and innovative products, services, strategies, processes, and even rituals! This fascinating, yet humble approach, starts with the thought ``I have no idea what will come out of this.`` It's a journey that starts with understanding the why and rapidly validates the what.Through fun and interactive activities, this crash workshop will walk you through the essential principles and process of Design Thinking. You will have the opportunity to learn how to develop empathy - and truly understand and feel what other people think and experience. We will challenge your creative juices by applying divergent thinking techniques, and to remove fear from failure by discovering value from experimentation.This 60-minute workshop is packed with tips on how to develop the mindset to solve problems creatively and ignite strategic innovation.

3. Exploring Relationships as a Service - Linnea Vizard and Elina Lawrie (Service Designers - Service Design Toronto).How does the design of services impact our relationships? How might relationships precipitate the success of a service? Are relationship themselves, in fact, a service? Designing services is about designing relationships! Join us for a workshop that explores this intersection. We will take a look at relational service design from matchmaking services to the invisible girlfriend and beyond. Test drive and learn to apply service design methods to create more intentional relationships of all types, using a new tool, the invisible girlfriend and beyond. Test drive and learn to apply service design methods to create more intentional relationships of all types, using a new tool, the relationship model canvas, in a facilitated hands on activity. Attendees with all sorts of relationships welcome!

12:30 PM


Your brain needs energy, eat some food! Enjoy a catered lunch.

1:30 PM

Talk: Build Better Products Faster, with Design Sprints

Using design thinking techniques to explore problems and test solutions quickly, design sprints provide the essential framework to creatively answer critical business questions and validate assumptions for new innovation projects. It allows organizations to be nimble, move quickly and mitigate risk when building digital products.

Dayton discusses how Design Sprints have re-shaped how he approaches new projects and builds software.

2:00 PM

Talk: Meeting People Where They're at: A Tools & Methods Presentation

Our presentation zeroes in on the methods we can use to be more flexible and adaptive with our research, so that we are making it easy and comfortable for users to share their needs, experiences, and aspirations with us.

2:30 PM

Panel: Mapping Out Your Design Career

They've been gone for some time now! It's time to bring back some UW graduates to hear about their current jobs, how they mapped out their career path and things to think about before you graduate. The session will be moderated by Karin Schmidlin.

3:30 PM

Talk: Scaling Service - Delivering an Exceptional End-to-end Experience

Breather provides a network of private, beautiful spaces designed with exceptional care to be perfect for meeting clients and co-workers. Our spaces can be booked on-demand, just for the time you need, whether for an hour or for a few days. With 18 spaces in Toronto and more than 300 locations worldwide, Breather wants to change the way you work.

We'll talk about some of the particular challenges of delivering a consistent service experience in the context of a startup – evolving the digital product alongside the physical one, adapting operational processes with remote teams, collaborating across departments and cities, and building an internal culture of end-to-end customer experience while growing fast.

4:00 PM

Talk: From Google, to Startup to Systems Change

Where can I go with a degree in design? How can I make a meaningful impact? What should I do with my life?If you're asking these questions as you prepare for life after graduation, you're not alone. Jessica Fan began her career over 5 years ago and has since been on a wild path of exploration and self-discovery. As an in-house designer, consultant, and award-winning serial entrepreneur, she has traveled the world solving challenges in fields ranging from sustainable agriculture, financial services, to education reform.

4:30 PM

Networking Break

Connect and socialize with speakers, sponsors and attendee's over light snacks and refreshments!

5:30 PM

Talk: Accelerating Public Sector Innovation

As human-centered designers, we must ensure desirability, viability, and feasibility at all times. Through private-public-partnerships, community engagement, and rapid prototyping, we can accelerate public sector innovation to address the unmet needs and opportunities for residents, public servants, and service providers.

6:00 PM

Talk: Future Centered Design

Thinking beyond the pixels and screens of our output allows our work to have a larger impact. What are the skills, trends, and tools we need to make products that remain relevant?

6:45 PM

Final Remarks and After Party!

Final remarks for the day and instructions for BLND 2018 after party.

9:00 PM

Bus Departure Stratford

Bus departs the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus to return to the University of Waterloo Main Campus at Hagey Hall.