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Solving complicated problems with Design Thinking

For the world’s most beloved brands like Apple and Ikea, Design thinking has been the reason behind their intentional and human-centric products. Design thinking encourages the business to be more empathetic in their approach in rendering a solution/product by putting themselves in the customer’s shoes to understand the needs, desires, and potential problems. It is about providing a solution by visualising the product, telling a story rather than selling a feature.

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To explain, I will share two real stories.

The first one is about the company GE Healthcare*
Those of you who have undergone an MRI Scan or got it done for a family member would know that the scan machines, however sophisticated they look, have the ability to scare. Having an MRI Scan is generally not a pleasant experience for adults, let alone children. Children often struggle to stay still during the process (often crying) given the frightening experience. The Chief Designer at GE Imaging Machines was shocked by this and felt as though something had to change. By applying Design Thinking, he decided to observe children going through the scanner while also having conversations with not just children but doctors and educators. Through the conversations and observations, he found that rather than being seen as an elegant piece of technology, the MRI Scanner was considered to be a scary machine by young children. As a result, CT Pirate Island Adventure was created. The MRI scanner was made to look like a pirate ship and it transformed the traumatic experience into a kid’s adventure story where the patient had the starring role. This transformation brought about a dip in sedation of children prior to the scan by 70% Another story is about Starbucks*. The food and the beverage industry were experiencing a drop in sales and poor margins. Starbucks decided to interview hundreds of customers to better understand what they expected from their coffee shops. Through the insights gained from these interactions, it was evident that the customers were expecting an atmosphere and ambience that gave them a sense of belonging and relaxation. As a result, Starbucks positioned round tables strategically to make solo coffee drinkers more comfortable and less self-conscious.

Design thinking is a process that helps us to solve complicated business problems. The concept of Design Thinking questions the prescribed process and steers the designer to be conscious and mindful of the methods that help to get him/her unstuck. It requires a drastic change in mindset to ensure successful application and that itself is a difficult task. The mindset that needs change are about answers that are not clear from the start, the failures that are powerful tools for learning, the focus on human centricity and making the iterative process a way of life for unexpected solutions.

Some of the strategies or mindsets that can help to apply design thinking are :

Human Focus: Your customers are not sheer numbers and therefore it is an imperative to understand their feelings, hopes, fears, and unique stories. Once you get to know and empathize with them, you may think of your product/solution and how you market it, in a completely different light. Ethnographic research and quantitative market research will set your intuition for informed decisions.

Flare-And-Focus: In design thinking, using divergent thinking, or “flaring,” helps to discover opportunities and explore ideas. This helps to broaden the base of thinking and consider different stories before arriving at a solution. Once you have a variety of themes or concepts, using convergent thinking or “focusing,” helps to narrow down choices and make informed decisions. Using flare and focus catalyses your creativity with a focus to deliver the project within time and resource constraints.

Iterative Process Focus: Imagine investing in a big campaign, only to discover that it did not resonate with your customers after having spent so much time and resources on it. For instance in product design, the cost of failure significantly increases further along the process. One of the ways to lower these risks is by constantly testing our hypotheses, by making our concepts tangible and testable with users from the initial stages until the very end. Knowing how to give and receive feedback leads to a culture of openness and constant improvement.

To summarise, I would state that your intention for business changes when you view it through the lens of the customer. In Design Thinking, you solve problems that meet the customer’s need and that for any business is the sole objective of being in business.

*Source:https://medium.com/@shaynam85/6-companies-that-have-successfully-applied-design-thinking-2d8bddf4e9e2

Storytelling Communication Matters

Hi, I’m Prof. Pamposh Gulati and I teach Journalism, Media, and Communication at IILM University.

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Do you know? The stories we tell create the world we live in.

To be able to communicate effectively is perhaps the most important of all life skills because it facilitates passing information to others and helps us understand what is said to us. The ability to communicate information precisely, lucidly and as intended, is a fundamental life skill and something that should not be ignored.

Storytelling is a two-way interaction, between someone telling a story and one or more listeners. It is a well-known and powerful means of communicating messages and engaging audiences. For eras, storytelling to communicate has been used very effectively. From the original cavemen to our ancestors and now to businesses and marketers, storytelling is a valued tool. It is an art form with a purpose to educate, stimulate and communicate thoughts, expressions and ideas. Storytelling typically follows a structure that defines the cause-and-effect relationships between events that take place over a particular period and that impact a range of individuals.

Storytelling is likely to generate a shared understanding among people about a situation, a topic or a problem. The more a story is engaging, the more it has the potential to attract and sustain the interest of the audience perpetuating meaningful connections. One thing is clear that people connect with a story, and a story takes people on a journey. Whether it’s a journey to your childhood home or a journey to a life-changing truth, it’s a story that will eventually take you there.”

Human beings are wired for stories. With the evolvement of technology and communication, its become imperative to communicate succinctly through all channels. However, this isn’t always so easy. Although one might think that with so much new technology, communication has become easier, but actually, all it’s done is to reinforce the need to perfect the classic communication methods. One being, storytelling. Engaging communication through storytelling has several perks. But why you should use it? To express your vision.

Storytelling techniques are common for individuals, groups, companies, and large organisations. Let’s discuss briefly some important techniques:

  1. Make your stories friendly: Friendly stories are great as they get the listeners into a state of mind, which is full of positivity and hope; leaving a great impact on their minds.
  2. Emotional: A story that garners strong emotion is one that will last the longest in the minds of the listeners.
  3. Bring your characters to life: Characters are the heart of any story. Their affluence and hardships are what makes people want to laugh, cry or rejoice. To do this, you must provide enough detail to bring the character to life in the minds of your audience.
  4. Inclusive: A story which allows the listener to feel as though they’re in the story themselves is the kind of story which is the most effective. Imagining ourselves as the protagonist always feels good na..
  5. Relevant: Relevancy is key when communicating with your audience. A witty story can make people feel good, however, it may not relate to the central message you want to convey. This is why when you use storytelling to communicate, the message has to bring into line with the story, dovetail, or at least circle back.

At IILM University, storytelling is an integral subject of journalism, media and communication. Digital storytelling is different from traditional print journalism. As mobile and i-pads become the default device and visuals overtake text, journalism has definitely come of age. Navigation is based on tap and swipe, video commands attention, graphics and quotes communicate better than a copy. Storytelling is both an art and a science. Some pieces are inherently in you — copywriting and creativity — that can be fostered and sharpened. The undergraduate course in Journalism, Media, and Communication at IILM University is the preferred destination for students looking to immerse themselves in this dynamic and exciting industry. We understand that the performative and very practical nature of journalism suggests that journalism skills development is most effective when approached through a learning-centred approach to curriculum. Therefore, our pedagogy is all about experiential learning. Our curriculum is based on the concept of “Doing it for Real”; therefore, we teach in a designing experiential journalism and media curriculum that prepare students for the new and uncertain world.

If you like what you’ve heard on this podcast, I invite you to leave us a comment or review. 

Podcast Series of IILM University

Welcome to the PODCAST series of IILM University. A platform to know, to discuss, to understand, and reinvent ourselves. IILM University’s Liberal Education gives students the flexibility, knowledge and wisdom to pursue their passion across the 5 schools – Business Management | Design | Humanities and Social Sciences | Law | Technology.

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