While the topic sounds very interesting and exciting, it is at the same time also intriguing. According to Juliana Proserpio, Co-founder and Global Design Director at Echos,  “Design Thinking” has become a buzz word, while it shouldn’t be one. It is amazing how one can not only network and meet new people, but also learn something new by attending some good sessions. I also learned something new at the “Delivering Value” meetup. As the name suggests, there is truly value into new things that are taught and shared at the meetup, organized by our very own amazing Stella Akratos. Thank you for all your effort and hard work in putting these together.

Without further deviating from the topic, here are a few things that I learned at the event:

  1. Design thinking is historically used by us as human beings to think about our future and to bring the innovation that we could. In fact, we have evolved only because we were and we are future-oriented. Somehow, this thought process is lost in our day to day work and that is something which needs to be organized and structured
  2. The concept of design thinking is linked to the mindset of human beings and how we think about our needs, the behavior of the market, business value, etc.
  3. Have you heard of the term, sometimes, “One step back is two steps forward”. Innovation through design thinking is like that. One has to take one step back to understand and analyze the problem.
  4. It has to be noted that innovation is perceived value by someone else. If you really think about it, one does not become innovative just by saying but by showing how innovatively solutions can be delivered.
  5. Design thinking is the approach to human-centered innovation. It is to address complex problems and put people at the center of the decisions.

The picture below summarizes the concept of design thinking.

What are the values associated with design thinking?

It is always good to know a pattern or a structure to a particular approach and that is what we did today. There are three values associated with the design thinking approach:

  1. Empathy: Having empathy towards one’s peers, clients, stakeholders is the key. A lot can be associated with the concepts of emotional intelligence, I guess, where you are trying to touch upon the emotional aspects of people problem that you are trying to solve
  2. Collaboration: This is the key. One needs to see all the perspectives applicable to a particular problem. There could be customers, vendors, competitors, government, and many such entities involved when we are trying to think of a particular problem and a holistic approach is important
  3. Experimentation: Prototyping becomes very important because when one is thinking and innovating for the future, one does not know what the results are going to be. It is not dependent on the past and hence, gradual, incremental approach needs to be taken in order to implement the solution to the problem at hand.

Well, it sounds all a bit theoretical so let us also learn how to apply this practically. Think of a problem that you may have at hand. The one that was given to us during the meetup was “What problem do you think Sydney has?” There were many, which were identified but our group came up with the consensus, similar to many other groups, that transportation was a problem. So, the idea was to use the design thinking model (or approach) to solve this problem for the future. The method used is depicted in the picture below.

The first step was to identify the social need for the problem. Remember the past or present problem in this case. When I started talking to other members outside and within the group, (and the key was to ask a lot of Why questions), I realized that a lot of people relate to transport with wastage of time. The time that can be utilized to do things that they like (start their own company, go to the gym, play sports, hang out with friends, family) and by doing so, they felt happy. So, it was established that the social need behind solving the transport problem is to make people happy.

This took us to the next step of identifying the intent behind solving the problem. Why was it important to solve the problem and the intent behind it? After brainstorming and talking for few more minutes, we came up with this “Providing people with time for what they love to do”. So, if we solved the transport problem, we would be able to provide people with the time that they can utilize to be happy. Note, how the intent is associated with the social need.

And lastly, we were asked to use emerging technologies to solve the problem in the future. Our idea was to use technologies like augmented virtual realities (holograms), automatic grocery ordering system through IoT, home delivery of nutritious food through drones, etc. We were truly thinking beyond what can be achieved today or maybe we are almost already there but just not day to day yet.

We were asked, What would the magazine cover look like in 2030 for Sydney? And this is what I came up with

Basically, a meeting where holograms are present instead of real you and the happiness index of Sydney has been continuously above 1 for the last 5 years.

Imagine that something like this was done in a span of 45 minutes during the event. This is the power of design thinking and you can extrapolate this to a much deeper and insightful session which can be conducted to solve any problem that you may have at hand. The problem could be at a project level, organizational level or at the country level, the same process can be applied throughout.

For more information about the amazing work that Juliana and Ricardo are doing and to subscribe to their online and offline courses, you can visit their website.

If you want to connect with me, you can do so by visiting my LinkedIn profile here.

Until next time.