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Co-creation of an operating framework for CFA Institute


CFA Institute is a global, non-profit organization for investment professionals, with a global network of 160+ local societies and 190,000+ members. The institute provides its members with access to a wide range of top-tier financial education resources, and the latest industry insights, including networking and career development opportunities.

The CFA Institute needed an operating framework to unify its brand culture, and operations across the board, without disrupting its diverse representation through its local societies. However, there was one challenge. The institute’s executives were time-starved and couldn’t find a way to collectively develop a solution to the problem.

We were tasked with the challenge of engaging the institute’s time-starved executives and co-creating an inclusive and enabling environment where they could collectively develop a usable prototype for the operating framework and figure out the best way to implement it to achieve quick and effective results.


We planned the project using our WakeMake Framework which included engaging the executives to discuss their challenges and decide on the best facilitation approach and time to tackle them. We then designed and facilitated a two-day session, that focused on creating a safe space where everyone could connect and freely express themselves.

We collected feedback on the progress made by the organization’s previous efforts in the first session and then co-created a vision for the future of the organization and how they see themselves contributing to its actualization. We also helped them articulate the essence of their work.

Having helped them develop a shared understanding of their situation and how they needed to fix it, we moved to the commitment phase. In this phase, we designed and facilitated group consultation among all the stakeholders to inspire commitment to the development of the operating framework.

At the end of the session, we were able to assemble a small group of volunteers that committed part of their time to meet over a 4-week period to develop the operating framework. We designed and facilitate the entire process and then helped them translate their concepts into a working prototype.

The project spanned the duration of two months from start to finish.


  • 2-day in-person co-creation session with 20 people
  • 2 two-hour virtual co-creation sessions with 8 people
  • 8 individual feedback and discovery calls
  • 1-day in-person co-creation session with 10 people
  • 1 in-person feedback session with 30 people


Designed optimal approach to complex problem solving with time starved executives
Shifted the traditional top-down approach where the framework is not a preconceived product “rolled out or launched” by one party, but a mutual agreement.

Created the mindset shift that things don't need to be "finished", "perfect", or "done" before they are shared.

Introduced the design thinking approach for re-framing the challenge from a human-centered perspective.

Introduced and facilitated divergent thinking, as the behavior needed for problem-solving as opposed to the sole solution focused convergent thinking.

Developed an interactive prototype the client feels confident sharing and developing further.


"Approach to the project created an equal playing field for participants and a safe space for each to use their imaginations and offer unique perspectives. No one person from either the larger organization or the chapters dominated via opinion or vision, so the output was a collective one. This was immensely important for creating buy in for an operating framework meeting the needs of all future users. The resulting product is a comprehensive and interactive model for the working relationship between these 155 separate organizations and for future chapters which may join our dynamic and growing network.” - Randi Tolber, Project owner, Society Relations Global Head, CFA Institute

“Iva made design thinking enjoyable and was very clear on expectations of the session. She had unique ways to engage all of us for fun and a structured and unique way to provide feedback (visual cards). One of my favourite parts was sharing my proudest moment but more importantly hearing what others shared as their proud moments.” ~ Participant

“Overall I received a good framework for developing prototypes that is easily transferable to other projects to help others understand the process.” - Participant

“It's an enjoyable process and definitely made me stop and focus on things I wouldn't normally pay attention to, (ie: what is my best working group/team.)" ~Participant