Hesitation, trepidation and anxiety are normal feelings when people start to self-exploration. This feeling also happened in the start of Design Thinking course. To me, these negative emotional feelings were supposed to be an obstruction to accessing the new environment and knowledge, especially being a layman in creative industry.
“Everyone is the creative type” Kelley and Kelley (2013) suggested. Over seven months self-exploring journey, I took the “Safe Heaven” with the “Bright Light” team and experienced pitches and trade fairs. The most crucial point that I learnt was that creativity, aesthetic perception and imagination do not just belong to designers and artists, everyone has creativity but finding out the problems that are ignored and how to solve them with a novel approach is the most difficult point.
Those negative emotions were no longer confusing to me. In this process, by solving problems, creativity will naturally be presented.
What’s the design thinking to me?
Human centered design can lead to breakthrough innovations (Kelley and Kelley, 2013). As the brilliant and innovative products solve the fundamental problems what we face which is the most important point. However, solving a problem is not a big deal, how to create the benefits and products that catch everyone’s eyes easily are the emphasis. Creativity is the production of novel and useful ideas in any domain (Amabile, 1996). Design Think could be seen the highway to lead people to be more creative and inspire more fresh ideas to satisfy people’s needs and desires.
As Brown (2008) suggested that design thinking is a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible. A viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity. However, more and more businesses care about “market value and opportunity”. Therefore, they correctly use design thinking to manufacture brilliant products and truly amaze public. However, those novel products just add material desires but do not fundamentally satisfy people’s needs.
How to think out of the box could the main concept of design thinking. However, to me, through this method how to solve basic and human centered needs are the most important. The unnecessary desires might make more problems but the appropriate desire can fulfill the need of freshness. If we take a look at latest IPhone 7, we will know what do I mean. Apple group created more desires but does not comprehensively solve basic needs (they cancelled headphone jack, yeah! Great idea, great concept but why should I buy extra accessories for listening to music?).
A long journey
That was a long journey from brainstorming, manufacturing to presenting our final products in market and elaborating them in Dragon’s Den. From nothing to achieved everything, design thinking helped our team a lot. It was hard to ascertain that we were right or wrong through the sales or the mark of pitching. Based on my understanding of creativity and design thinking, human centered design went through the whole process. Furthermore, whether implemented, every process with human centered concept was what I cared about and decided whether successful or not. In the following, I will discuss how empathy, storytelling and teamwork experience influence me for my future goal.
Think wild, executive careful
As a start-up business, just like a kid that goes to school for first time. Brown and Ktaz (2009) believed that the successful idea should overlap these three concepts: Feasibility, Viability and Desirability. It is true that an idea that can earn value from the market is absolutely important but if we look at it too seriously, it might kill the wild ideas in the early stage. On the contrary, like children who are not afraid to answer wrongly in class, if you are not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up anything original (Robinson, 2011). In the brainstorming stage, we came up many ridiculous ideas, like fork with sauces and chair stick. When facing the next step(manufacturing), most of ideas were deleted because of unfeasibility and I have to admit that this process took us too much time to keep the balance between creative and feasibly. Even Gross (2015) analyzed that ideas and business models are not the most related factors of successful start-up business. However, business models are truly helpful to reduce the time and money waste.
A design thinker should not only think wild but also being empathic. Brown (2008) suggested that being a design thinker, you should be thoughtful toward your current and future customers and team members. Combining with Bright Light experience, the market survey was the direct and effective methods of being empathic. Through the feedback of customers, clients or doing the research of competitor’s products. Moreover, we checked competitor’s marketing and price strategies. Through these approaches we could adjust our business strategies immediately and explore new customer segments.
Moreover, Schrage (2017) also believed that this practical approach could lengthen the customer lifetime value. For instance, due to the customer surveys in trade fairs, backpackers were not our only target customer, elders who engage into outdoor activities also had demands and they were more willing to pay for “Safe Heaven”. On the other hand, some customers became more valuable when they were willing to give us advice and promised us to share Safe Heaven with their friends.
“Timing is the most important factor for entrepreneurships being successful” Gross said (2015). When the right moment for your business is coming, how could you catch this chance? Therefore, how to spread your ideas quickly and correctly in the right moment is really important.
Godin (2007) pointed out that most public accustomed to ignore the information you give because the information were not related to them! Before ten years, salesmen fed clients information through TV advertising. Nowadays, salesmen just change the platforms to spread information from TV to social medias. People receive numerous information but what do they really want? The social media is still necessary but which platform can reach more potential customers and effectively let them know we have what they need or desire is more important.
In addition, Brown (2008) thought that often the emotional connection to a product or an image is what engages customers in the first place. After the right timing and right approach to spread your ideas, brilliant storytelling could touch the target customers’ heart, inspire the desire of products.
An appropriate storytelling could be the key factor to influence your potential customers, feel this company understands you and stands by your side. Through the massive influence of the internet, this kind of emotional connection could spread quickly. Unlike Godin (2007) who considered that spreading good ideas needs the right people to tell their friends. Nowadays, the internet could be the “storytelling virus”. Like my previous blog mentioned, PX Mart’s videos understood young people’s situation and made the emotional connation with them.
However, after the trade fairs’ experience, the storytelling was hard to have massive influence in the market because most of people would not stop to listen for ten minutes for your business story. In this situation, how to point out your products are uncommon and fresh could be remarkable (Godin, 2007) and seems more important. Bright Light’s commercial video probably focused more on what are the remarkable features but lacks background story. Compared with the feedback from customers and MACE students, most of people liked our ideas. At the same time, they still did not get the reason why they cannot miss “Safe Heaven”.
Maybe without the story to describe your concept, it would not have big influence on your sales immediately. However, after the brand design, the loyalty and sense of identity would rise. The concept of human centered design, storytelling is a suitable approach to connection company and customers.
As a team, any creative ideas should be appropriate (Amabile, 1998). In order to avoid sensitive topics or comprehensively understand people’s needs, the appropriate ideas cannot be decided by only one person or people with similar background, I think that was why Janja encouraged us finding different culture, gender or background people as team members. According to Reynolds and Lewis (2017) ideas, the higher cognitive diversity team could accomplish tasks better than the team with homogeneous culture. Livermore (2016) also thought cross culture would bring a richer repository of ideas. At the very beginning stage, we tried to figure out what were the common and ignorable problems we face. I was surprised that my problem was also the same problem on the other side of earth.
In reality, I have to honestly admit that working with cross culture team was more difficult than I expected. From these difficulties I faced, there are some factors might influence cooperating with others well or not:
At first, like Livermore (2016) and Bains (2014) pointed out that due to different culture, it has certain difficulty in expressing ideas. At the beginning, I was afraid to tell them my silly ideas because I preferred to collect data to make sure, they were creative and appropriate but other people might just share their ideas without consideration. Secondly, People with culture intelligence(CQ) are willing to speak up with diverse culture team. It is good for inspire innovative and novel ideas (Livermore, 2016) but communicating is an art, a skill to mediate disputes. The result of belonging to a highly CQ team, is that everyone wants to express ideas. At this moment, how to communicate well is more important.
Finally, putting cross culture issue aside, similar working style (Bains,2014) and participation (Myser, 2006; Livermore,2016) are the biggest reason to work together well for the long term. In addition, the motivation of participation could be influenced by interest, satisfaction and the challenge of work itself (Amabile, 1998).
Based on Bright Light’s own experience, multi-culture ideas really have positive affects at the brainstorming stage, even through there were a few arguments. The attitude of participation and working style influenced the following process. At the beginning of establishing a business, it should be the most passionate and creative period. There are multi-ideas and challenge we face. I believe communication and respect to each other would promise the positive influence for the long-term period.
Future step of me
After this creative journey, how can I believe that I was just an assistant in a normal travel agency and like a robot listened to managers without any idea and did not how to solve those obvious ignorable problems in the workplace? I used to have the point of view that design thinking course was helping us to make money from the creative industry. Now, I believe any creative and innovative production or the way I treat the problems should be based on the concept of human centre. To me, human centred design or thinking also include the empathy and ensuring every detail caring about people’s feeling. Moreover, combining with knowledge from the business courses will make it happen in reality. Trade fairs’ experience could be seen as best practice to make it from literature to become a feasibility.
What is the next step of me? I still cannot be sure. My first choice would have been working in museums or galleries before. However, the innovation companies might be more attractive to me! The improvement of innovation has increased sharply. Everything I learned from the classes like the lean canvas and value proposition canvas. Those can help me practicing the creative thinking. In the future, I still can use these approaches to make sure that my ideas are creative and feasible. Creativity is just the gimmick of some companies earn profits, but those financial benefits always should be based on creativity. Therefore, how to solve fundamental problems with creativity and inspire ideas with people from different cultures would be the interesting challenge to me.
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