Blog 6 – the dragon’s den experience 

Throughout the first semester, we have been through a ride already. Steps from firstly finding a problem which people are encountering to brainstorming a genuine solution all the way through prototyping and soon filing for a trademark for our product Tasca.

All that we have experienced through the initial three months of our program specifically in this module ‘Design Thinking for Start-up’ had been challenging yet rewarding.

Getting the first hand experiencing practically in the business world by integrating our theories with artists ‘students of MACE’ has been an eye-opening insight into the actual business world. Having the ability through the given platform of Young Enterprise has even further allowed us to experiment and test our capabilities.

Primary research has been found to be significant to find valuable information directly from the potential consumer of our product. Speaking to the right customer segment and the appropriate people within the industry has been extremely helpful.

All our working in financial costing and pricing, operation by prototyping, accurately defining our market segment and most importantly self-development all led us to a thrilling end to the first semester, the dragons den.

Having done three group meetings and practising the week before the dragon’s den, we have felt confident to showcase our product to our classmates and most importantly to the judges who are experienced in each of their respective industry had come across as our as our first group milestone.

Overall, I do believe we have done well getting a reasonably good overall score and meaningful feedback from our classmates from different groups. However, what we have valued as the most essential was the critical feedback the judges offered at the end.

That information was extremely meaningful as we have missed them out when we worked together as a group yet were reminded by the judges on how important these loopholes are and if we do not fill the void we may end up in unattractive situations.

All feedback has been taken on board and we at team Oddessy are working thoroughly to improve and achieve higher outcomes in the near future. We are now working seemingly towards our objectives and we are excited about the upcoming trade fair! 🙂

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Phases of Team Development – Blog 5

Now that we have all formed our groups and completed four months of working together, many of us would have went through different phases of development and learnt a lot from each other. That person who is always late to a group meeting, the team player, the hard worker and some of us may have even experience phases of turbulence where members disagreed and argued, which is absolutely fine. These are important stages of development that this blog will look at.

Throughout this blog, I will be using Bruce Tuckman’s model of stages of team development and outline major behaviours and actions that happens in each of the stages with emphasis on team effectiveness and impact on the overall performance. The figure below is a visual on Bruce Tuckman’s model.

Image result for phases of team development tuckman

Forming: 

Stage one of the team development is the initial forming of the group or team. Here member are excited to meet which other, for many of us in design thinking, it was the first time getting to know each other (as we had to mix up between Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship with others from Managing Creative Economies). Every member according to Tuckman is at their best behaviour yet confused as they are not sure about the actual objective of the project/task.

 

Storming: 

Probably many of you will consider this stage is as the toughest point, however I see it as an opportunity for learning and setting ground rules for all the group member to be on the same page for the project to be effective. Majority of the team arguments occur at this stage. Behaviour change from the initial stage and people become more like their usual selves which causes disagreement to arise. This opens up the space for each member to be transparent, allows opinions to flow as well as understanding each other better. I believe this is a vital stage before productivity actually kicks in.

 

Norming: 

Norms, values and responsibilities are agreed among all group members which set a clear objective to work towards. Relations improve as well as an increase in tolerance as each person will understand their responsibilities. At this stage team effectiveness and performance inclines drastically as shown the in the graph above. I assume that majority of the design thinking groups should be on this stage if not the performing stage.

 

Performing:

The team reaches a point where the environment is at an optimal point for all the members to achieve their given tasks at the highest possible standards. All members trust one another which excludes the need of a hierarchy within the group. Additionally, empathy and helpfulness are two critical traits members express at this stage where everyone wants to help the other to achieve that common goal. This in my opinion will be the most exciting stage for all groups.

 

Adjourning:

The ultimate stage, where group members harvest their efforts and a reflection on lessons learnt and on the milestones achieved throughout the journey. At this point the task as been accomplished, allowing members to depart. Hopefully by the end of March for us.

Design Thinking – Blog 4: The development and process of design at Apple.

This blog may be utterly belated. However, what had inspired me to write it was our visit to the design museum on 12th October 2018. Remembering an exhibit that I have seen where they had a timeline displaying technological advancement and how design was a core element of their progression with time.

The first company to ever reach the one trillion valuation, Apple is a heavily product-orientated organisation which focus on internal innovations to improve their products without taking into consideration the input of consumers. This immensely contradicts the importance of empathy in design and business.  Is this a coincidence or have Apple created demand from high skilled human capital that they obtain and advancement in design?

Well, two can’t deny how revolutionary Apple are in the technology industry and their significance in design development. Known for their simplistic, sleek and modern design along-side marvellous advancement in software development had allowed them to build a reputable household brand name which permitted them to sell their product at a premium price.

The significant transition of Apple products driven by ‘Designed by Apple in California’ has been possible due to multiple factors working harmonically together. What I have found shocking is that the Apple design team is surprisingly miniature in comparison to other large organisations. However, this has proved to be the clinical driver to their triumph. They have created an environment that allows each person to pitch their views whilst everyone else would listen and contribute rather than shaming and ignoring.

Inseparability of design and making, culture of asking questions and testing by constant prototyping and reforming are the core values which had been implemented to ignite Apple’s tremendous excelling in the industry. Distancing themselves from empathy and avoiding asking customers had led them in exploring wider boundaries by limiting outside influences on ‘why such things wouldn’t work’.

Today, seeing how the products of Apple changed dramatically with time tell us a story of momentum and learning. The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt from Apple it that designers should think of the future rather than thinking of what they have already accomplished to see how to be ahead.

Engineering at home. The story​ of 71-year-old Cindy. – Blog 3

On the 9th of October, the IME (Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship) students had visited the Victoria and Albert museum in Kensington. We have been given the task of identifying current trends and come up with a single business idea. However, there was something else that caught my eye throughout the journey at the exhibition, where I have seen the story of 71-year-old Cindy that lost her arm.

Cindy’s story was very inspirational that led to write this blog about her without any hesitation. To me I consider her an example for the many individuals out there feeling left down due to their disabilities. I HOPE THIS WILL INSPIRE YOU!

Let me share with you Cindy’s story. After suffering from a vital heart attack, she had left unfortunate, Cindy had lost full control of her limbs, very devastating… Thus, making daily duties such as washing dishes, driving and preforming any sort of physical activities something of the impossible, doesn’t it?

Luckily, with her perseverance and determination it drove her to face her disability undoubtedly.  For the time she was waiting for a configured arms to be designed and produced Cindy had moved on forward swiftly by challenging the status quo of ‘engineers know best’.

She had done so by reframing current daily equipment so she could utilize them for her day to day use, the reformats where made by Cindy, to hold some products without the use of her hand. Products such as cutlery and playing cards had been ‘hack’ so Cindy could actually use them.

At a later stage, Sara Henderson and Caitrin lynch, design educators caught up with the story of Cindy which led them to document her experience to allow them to develop confidence in others that are going through a similar situation to step forward also to make individuals learn that they could engineer their own solution to their problems.

Remember that if you are facing a rough situation in your life, others somewhere else in the world would most probably face a some way same situation. Who would be the best to sort out these situations? In my opinion, those individuals that are suffering. These people REALLY understand the struggle and possibly know what should be done. But how will they design and produce if they are experts? There should be a mechanism that connects designers to end users, something similar from my first blog on empathy.

I do hope that this blog had made you at least slightly more confident to raise the boundary of your creativity and willingness to think BIG!

Bureaucracy when starting up a business. Is it worth it? And how much Bureaucracy is ‘right’?

Bureaucracy is a term that I definitely accuse as a major de-motivator for potential entrepreneurs to start up a business. Well, for any of you that may find this phrase new, Bureaucracy is defined as a governmental administrative system with clear hierarchy of inflexible rules, regulations and procedures. As potential entrepreneurs, most of us will go this painful process, for the moment we will just get a teaser working on our design thinking project.

Kamal Gupta, citing his experience with corporate bureaucrats, said, “We have a word for it; we call these people ‘zombie managers.’

You may ask how does this have anything to do with starting up a business? Let me explain it in my own words; it is a bunch of unnecessary, excessive process of paper work that an entrepreneur must go through before starting their venture, for example registering with governmental organizations for matters such as tax and how your business will ably within the labour law. You know, just like HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Costs).

“Most governmental bureaucracy is the result of crossed purposes: multiple groups who disagree on the desirability of certain results ….” James Heskett

 

Yes, you may say that this is a standardized process that is swift and must be done to keep record, and I agree with you, to a certain point. On the other hand, in some countries, where corruption levels are high and the government does not enhance an entrepreneurial ecosystem, this procedure is draining to a point where you lose interest in starting a business.

Usually most of the process is done online, Nevertheless, on average a person must go through 26 different governmental and non-governmental organisations to get approvals for their idea, each organisation take up to three weeks to respond, you cannot move forward unless you get an approval which may contradict what has been told to you by another establishment, which adds complexity to your initial situation. This is according to entrepreneurs that I personally know from back home.

Of course, it may differ between one country to another, therefore I would like to compare and contrast different systems to understand what is the optimum level of bureaucracy that should be applied? In other words, how much standardization is required that at the same time enhances individuals to open their businesses, for a country to thrive in the sense of adopting an entrepreneurial ecosystem without its possible negative impacts.

Image result for most efficient governments

From the figure, above, by the World Economic Forum, we can make the suggestion that these countries could have what I identified as the optimum level of bureaucracy. With the aid of GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) I have drawn the conclusion that these countries have very similar approach towards entrepreneurship which had carved out a system that limits down the bureaucratic procedure to inspire individuals to start a venture in a smooth, cooperative and enriching process.

These factors are:

  1. Implementing an innovative driven economy (in comparison to other countries that are either factor or efficient driven).
  2. Embeds entrepreneurship as a major factor for social and economic progression.
  3. Aims to lead industries by research & development and generate foreign direct investment.
  4. And most importantly, having a free market economy determined by consumers spending other than depending on natural resources.

 The dilemma remains, as studies advocate that when companies grow larger, increases the levels of hierarchy, they themselves become bureaucratic which distorts and tightens the mission of innovative within.  In the end of the day, we need some form of standardization for various reasons. Is decentralization an answer? Possibly, depending on the circumstances of the company itself.

I am very keen to hear back from you on what you think about this situation. Am I taking a one-sided approach on criticizing governments for not being as effective as they should? And is there such an ‘optimum level’?

Sites and further reading:

Introduction to product design and the importance of empathy through the design process.

Product design is one of the most contemplated topics brought up when start-ups are discussed. Ample discussions about the design of user’s experience, psychology and emotions are studied immensely.

The term product design has emerged from ‘user experience design’, hence it is a long process that require attentive people as the process may be exhaustive. The procedure generally go through several phases such as, prototyping, failure, feedback and trying again. This cycle would be repeated multiple times until a viable product is created and satisfies the targeted consumers or pleases the designers.


– muditha batagoda

 

Continuously, new techniques and processes are being introduced to understand current and future needs of different consumers. This has become a major priority for the product development departments with the aim of creating a competitive advantage by fulfilling market needs economically.

However, numerous designers underestimate the importance of empathy in the sense of understanding feeling and emotions of consumers when a product is designed, as emphasis on looks overtake purpose of the product. Thus, leaving the end-user isolated from the process resulting in an undesirable outcome as consumers are observed for inspiration simply.

“The problem with being too focused on quantitative metrics is that they usually only tell one part of the story” -Amy Thibodeau


Empathy is defined as: a person’s capability of understanding the feeling and emotions of others. You might wonder why is it important in the design process? well in my option and with the backing up of several articles and blogs, empathy seems to sparks creativity in the mind of the designer to come up with the best possible outcome, of course after multiple attempts. How? Basically, as  designers, we should imagine yourselves in the same situation as the person that we are trying to serve.

Sympathizing with a potential user of a product or a service through an interview and understanding their actual difficulties and needs may rather be the best form of research and market analysis. We have all seen this during our gifting giving exercise in class. 

“Building an understanding about the people who use your product is a process of continual improvement.” – Amy Thibodeau

Well, it is not as easy as it may seem. The process should begin by asking ourselves three important questions, what do the people we intend to serve care about? What are their pain points? And how can we utlilise our position as designers to create a solution to their needs? Additionally, throughout the interview process, the interview should take an open minded, willing to listen approach to gain as much information as possible. The big challenge lies in stepping outside of your own calcified biases to adopt a more empathic perspective.

To end with, I will leave with something to think about. If you would one day create an invention hailed by the mass but isn’t either practical or useful, would you still feel like you have accomplished anything?

 

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