You Google ‘Design Thinking’ on the net and a ubiquitous picture diagram you come across, which looks like a ‘chemical formula’. Five words written in the hexagonal bubbles, arranged in certain manner evoke a sense of wonder, as if there was a great mystery behind them. Is there a simpler way to remember and practice Design Thinking? Turian Labs proposes the 4 tenets.
Way back in 2010, our work was making waves in the media on Design Thinking for the brand strategy work for Secure Meters, an Indian multinational.
"There are numerous tools and techniques available to fire up the hidden sparks in the people, that includes so called ‘hats’ and ‘shoes’. But techniques don’t interest me. Believe it or not, so-called 'techniques' have an inherent problem of killing the ability to think creatively. Mind becomes complacent, the moment someone provides a ‘technique’ and a well-defined way. My interest & proposition is in understanding the natural course of creative thinking and recognizing those natural stages in the journey, where the shifts happen."
Look at all the erudite articles floating around the web on Design Thinking and they tend to make DT appear, a jargon-filled complicated process that needs to be learnt and practiced a certain way. Great thing is that the world has discovered that there is something meaningful in the designers' way of solving problems.
WeWork – the American co-working movement giant – announced its India expansion this October. Partnering with Embassy – a real-estate player – WeWork aims to target Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in the first round.
This announcement brings along a leap in the exponentially expanding co-working culture that is challenging the workspace-norms globally. Along with WeWork, there has been a rise in number of companies – in both local and international market – that are working towards providing a structure for both collaborative & independent work environments for freelancers & start-ups in India. We also see many of the millennial entrepreneurs are highly influenced by the workspace trends of global business capitals like Silicon Valley or Paris.
Start-ups in turn, are shifting their conference rooms from coffee shops (with good ambiance, Wi-Fi and sometimes, good coffee) to these co-working and shared spaces, which offer work-friendly infrastructure and a more fulfilling experience than a café. With this evident change in the workspace expectations & behaviors – especially from young entrepreneurs, there have been strong indicators to translate these changes in the traditional offices of many multi-national Indian companies as well.
During a 3-month-long research that Turian Labs conducted, we observed an important mindset shift within the organizations from ‘client-centric thinking’ to ‘employee-centric thinking’. Traditionally, companies have always focused on creating spaces to impress the clients or guests who happen to visit the workspace, albeit rarely. In contrast, if you visit any of these offices now, you’ll find a dedicated team of employees providing inputs to the procurement team about the aspired workspace formats and experiences. The end-user gaining the powerful say in creating the workspace-strategy for the organization also clearly shows how Indian offices are adapting to the open-office culture and relaxing the strict hierarchical structures.
When it comes to factors like workspace navigation, experience, workstation layouts, selection of furniture, etc., global companies generally follow a global mandate while outfitting a new workspace. With the emergence of new millennial employees and their changed needs, however, these companies are now readily modifying the norms to focus on Indian sensibilities, expectations and employee behavior.
During the research, one of the major questions that team Turian came across was that of aligning the global trend of collaborative spaces with Indian work culture and work habits. A furniture designer from a start-up incubator in Delhi highlighted, “Foreigners can work in groups without having private spaces but we can’t. We as Indians are open to working in collaborative spaces but want a personal space too, as Indians are territorial.”
For Indian employees, the sense of belonging to a space is still important. The mindset and the work culture have not yet moved to the complete open-office system even though hierarchical thinking is on its way out. Also, in spite of the collaborative workspaces being the new evolving format in the Silicon Valley, the Indian context still requires ‘Hybrid Workspaces’ – a balanced mix of personal and collaborative spaces for both the old-school thinkers and the millennials. Employees are looking at collaborative spaces (which anyway are a new addition to the traditional offices) in the near vicinity with personal zones for focused working. After working in teams, the employees want to return to their ‘personal space’ for focused working. Irrespective of the company type – a start-up or a multinational global company, aligning the employee-centric thinking with the workspace solutions gives a stronger base from where to address young millennials.
D'IVE -Design Thinking and Innovation Meetup saw a packed house in its second session on October 22nd, 2016. Over 60 design thinking enthusiasts came together and shared innovation scenarios, stories and challenges from across the industries. From banking and IT to aviation and entrepreneurship, the multi-perspective approach to innovation were discussed with gusto.
Manoj Kothari and Harshad Nanal- facilitators for the day, ran an open house and answered queries on innovation challenges in the startup ecosystem and discussed how Design Thinking could act as a catalyst in problem solving.
The queries- crowd-sourced from the participants- majorly dealt with need validation for a ideas, cross industry collaboration, risk mitigation for a new idea, converting insights into profitable ideas, creating innovation mindsets and ecosystem within the organization and leveraging the best of ideas from the team.
The November session of D’ive will be organized on the last Saturday- Novemebr 19th, 2016. The event is free with a prior registration required. We also invite innovation challenges or case-studies in a 7-slide/ 7-minute format from the participants, to share and brainstorm on, during the next session. To contribute, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.