I am a Liberal arts graduate from one of the only few colleges for Liberal Arts in India. As a part of the insecurity that is inevitable for arts stream (highly India specific), most of the students in my college oriented their energies towards finding better/any future prospects instead of following their passion.
A common joke in my anthropology class was: “I have a degree in the Liberal Art. Do you want fries with that?” I bumped into Design Thinking by sheer mistake, and if you sway the other way, by destiny. A friend of a friend, who runs a Design Thinking firm in Pune, posted on Facebook “looking for graduates who like talking to people”. With the desperation of getting as far away from fries as possible, I replied that I can, in ALL CAPS. I got an interview for the next day. So I sat all night reading the company’s website to figure what they do.
Design Thinking, it read, helps shaping better products, services, brands & most importantly - PEOPLE. It helps organizations develop deeper insights, discover emerging opportunities and reimagine the business.
Design Thinking Google search said “utilizes elements like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. By using design thinking, you make decisions based on what future customers really want instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence.”
It has been a year I have been a Design Researcher and I love my job. My job is to help people/companies make their products/services more user-centric. As a Design research company we believe all things start at the user. That maybe Nano would not have failed if the campaign was made after talking to the family of 4 going to a park on a Bajaj scooter. That I would like my Vespa more if it did not have a bump on the leg rest platform that makes all luggage topple off. We believe that there are little stories that only a user can tell.
We also believed in Henry Ford, when he said “If I had asked people, they would have said they want faster horse carriages” or something to that effect. We believe in users to know what they want, but we believe in the market, technology to have/develop better substitutes to satiate the need.
To put it all together, design thinking is an art/science that helps make any product/service more centered on the user and taking it further with the knowledge of technology and possibilities of the future. Design thinking is the facilitator, a bridge, so to say that connects empathy to market and trends.
Some of the projects I have worked on include- helping farmers gain access to advisory and ecommerce, reducing people’s insecurity of using digital wallets, making ‘help’ provided in-app or on search engines more accessible and digestible.
This does not necessarily apply to liberal arts or designers. Design Thinking is also degree agnostic, I work with a team of Design researchers who were previously engineers, product designers, journalists. And the best part is, it fares a lot better than selling fries.