Our Approach

HFLI provides custom-designed experiences and scalable initiatives rooted in culturally-responsive practices. Our expertise as an innovation learning leader and our empathy as a strategic ally is reflected in every touchpoint, every engagement along a continuum of immersive, hands-on learning.


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We are actively developing HFLI Studio as your online source for:

  • HFLI’s immersive, real-time learning experiences.
  • Project collaboration across miles and over time.
  • Impact tools, videos, and curricula you will use, come to love, and want to curate.
  • Compelling content and optimistic ideas to explore.


Our vision is a place where you can nurture your team’s projects for social good and activate your personal capacity to lead transformational change.


Wondering what we mean by design thinking at HFLI? We describe it as a collection of mindsets that enable/allow us to explore problems creatively, then reframe and act on them. A key point: it involves action, or “design doing,” as well as design thinking.

HFLI approaches design thinking in a way that:

  • Is open to and inclusive of other disciplines and methods.
  • Acknowledges the complexity involved in the process and doesn’t oversimplify.
  • Introduces essential tools and strategies in an accessible way.
  • Continually evolves and expands.


These methods and mindsets go back decades; they draw from the work of systems thinkers, psychologists, anthropologists, design researchers, architects, and scientists to name a few. However, while there is increased use, investment and interest in design thinking frameworks in corporate, education, and nonprofit sectors, no common definition or agreement on the specifics of this methodology exists

The learning experiences we create and deliver embody this philosophy.

Design thinking (and remember that also includes doing) is messy – it is not a closed-loop, it is not linear, and it is not static. Complex challenges require consistent circling back and around to check assumptions, reframe problems, and iterate on prototypes.

Over time our team has come to the nuanced understanding that design thinking actually looks something like this:

And, when you include the talents and contributions of people, like this:

HFLI's Design Thinking Mindsets
For Exploring Problems Creatively

learn by

Mindfully activate your intervention to make progress in its development.


Believe that positive progress is possible for even the most intractable problems.

Lean into

Embrace ambiguity and adopt a growth mindset, key to developing stronger interventions.

Drive toward Value

Focus on positive change to meet the needs of users/stakeholders.


Pay attention to and think intentionally about what you are doing, and when, why and how you are doing it.

Be Human-

Put the needs, feelings, perspectives and experiences of those you are designing for at the center of your process.


Learn about other people and the context of their experienced challenges in order to develop a truly valuable intervention.


Bring together people of different perspectives, experiences and expertise in order to create a breakthrough intervention.

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