Thursday, October 17, 2013

Accounting for Experiencing Design Thinking


Today, I participated in a design thinking workshop at the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) centre in Accra. It was organized for Rancard which is one of the companies in the first cohort. I am working at Rancard now (yea, long story, will share that with you later). Ehi Binitie, my boss and one of Rancard co-founders, has been a huge fan of design thinking this year and ensured people he worked closely with got to appreciate the same. So about 10 of my Rancard colleagues and 5 of our friends from our clients (mobile network operators) joined for this workshop.

Bill Scull, who has a lot of experience in Business Development with companies in the Silicon Valley, is one of the coaches based in Accra now working some of the companies in the first SEED West Africa cohort. Today, he took us through the workshop. His slides and lessons were based off SEED curriculum, and mostly by Jim Patel. Met Jim Patel a couple of times already. The SEED Director is a Ghanaian, Tralance Addy. Maybe it has something to do with the very first SEED centre outside Stanford being located in Ghana? Yea. Go Ghana! #winning.

We were asked to design our ideal wallet. Given that I've had a couple of wallets stolen, including one that inspired a television series script, I knew a thing or two. After drawing the ideal wallet, the next task was to interview a user about what they'd like their wallet to be like. I was seated next to a fine lady who I queried a bit about what they'd like in a wallet, what they use it for etc. After collecting the info in the interview, the next task was to come with a point of view (POV) statement for her. This is the operative statement that guides what you'd build or produce. You don't discover that by not engaging with the customer or many of them. Note that she was doing the same for me. And this is where I mentioned.....

The next task was to draw at least 3 different wallets that would meet my interviewee's needs. I used to draw a lot before JSS, I was one of the best artists around. I may have lost my artistic talent but drawing be cool chop. This is where you let your imagination go wild and you think outside the box. But you only do so to meet the user's needs and not your own wants. She picked one of the three designs, this one was clearly the one that resonated more with her and not me. There is a reason men's wallets are different from women's. The next task ws... did you guess it?.... to actually make a prototype of the wallet the partner chose. We had paper, scissors, and other material at our disposal. So I built a prototype of my partner's desired wallet. After showing it to her, turns out I misunderstood a couple of things. But that's where iteration comes in.

After hearing ideas of wallets with card scanners, microchips, mobile money , sensors,  etc, I thought to myself - "I'm not thinking outside the box enough". "I'm still quite traditional". "I should imagine if I have more resources". "Think big sometimes and then whittle down". I've become accustomed to doing more with little, and working with I can resource easily. I'm comfortable with this approach of piloting and pivoting and scaling from there. But maybe, I should go for the juggernauts more, especially when it's about design and brainstorming. We'd see how we work with this based on the scenario.

Other key learnings for me are as follows ... yea, more tweets.



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