Designing For Culture

INTRODUCTION: This workshop teaches the first principles of design thinking. There is an increasing realisation in most forward-thinking organisations that 'design thinking' is a state of mind and not the prerogative of the product design or any dedicated functional team within the enterprise. Being agile necessitates the incorporation of good design thinking at all levels in the organisation for optimizing product, service and customer experience. This workshop, which has also been designed using the principles of design thinking, is a novel experience for most participants. Read on to discover why!

THE NARRATIVE AND THE OBJECTIVE: Participants learn the skill of design thinking practically by 'designing' an assault rifle - an instrument of war, that most civilians would have never interacted with. The participants learn a framework for understanding the needs, cultural nuances and perspectives of the end-user of the 'product' or 'service' as the foundation of the design process. This unique hands-on approach teaches the participants the importance of 'trade offs' during the design journey which may actually entail creating a less-than-perfect product or service, to ensure better acceptance & satisfaction by the eventual user. They also learn why the 'culture' of the users & their organisations, have to be at the heart of every design process. This engaging and exciting session also breaks the myth that we need to deliver the best available solution every time. On occasions, the 'best option' may not optimal for the situation or environment.

THE OUTCOME FOR PARTICIPANTS: There are three reasons for using an assault rifle as a design case study. Firstly, it is far more engaging than designing say a shopping cart or an app. Secondly, all participants are approaching a completely new challenge with very little background. But the most important and nuanced reason for selecting the assault rifle is the fact that whether a country has the largest defence budget in the world (it is the US by the way - more than the next 20 countries put together) or a relatively small country like Vietnam, it can equip its soldiers with only one rifle. This means the participants must learn how to distil the culture, economic prowess, user behaviours and intellectual literacy into three and a half kilos of metal and plastic, regardless of the size and resources of the adversary. And during the process, they learn why superior resources are never the answer or replacement for 'designing for culture'.

This metaphor-led session is a deep-dive into sparking the art of design thinking, increased agility, enhancing the perspectives on innovation and inviting participants to use creative tools to address challenges, embrace mindset shifts and reframing intractable issues with new approaches.