Unleashing the Power of Design Thinking: Reflections and Lessons Learned for Driving Social Change

The “Design Thinking for Social Innovation” course was a game-changer for me. It was my first encounter with the topic, and I was eager to learn about the design thinking process, approaches, and thought patterns which are particularly relevant to social innovation. Surprisingly, I realized that I was already using some of the methods in my everyday work at BCG.

One of the most memorable parts of the course was the visualization of the double diamond. The double diamond is a problem-solving framework that consists of four distinct stages: discover, define, develop, and deliver. It highlights the iterative nature of design thinking, encouraging designers to revisit and refine their understanding of the problem and solution as they progress through each stage. The double diamond has become a valuable tool in my problem-solving toolkit, as it helps me to organize my thoughts and actions when approaching complex issues.

During the course, I gained several valuable insights that I will carry forward in my professional and personal life. Three of them stuck out to me in particular:

  1. Firstly, I learned that reading about design thinking is just first step. The editor’s note of the book “Thinking in Systems” really stuck out to me as it showed me that system’s thinking can enable me to get to the root cause of something and find effective solutions. This approach helped me in the team project down the line.

“Once you start to see the events of the day as parts of trends, and those trends as symptoms of underlying system structure, you will be able to consider new ways to manage and new ways to live in a world of complex systems”

  1. Secondly, to fully understand and appreciate the methodology, one must engage in hands-on activities. One such activity that I enjoyed was the Lego challenge. It demonstrated to me that sometimes the simplest tools can be the most effective in communicating ideas and solving problems. Additionally, the silent task with the Legos reinforced the importance of visualization and showed me that actions can speak louder than words.
  2. Thirdly, working on the NovaUnity project taught me that to make a (social) project successful, it is crucial to talk to all stakeholders involved. The input from different perspectives helps to create more holistic and sustainable solutions. Our team initially planned to create a cultural event calendar for students, but through conversations with 7 Nova clubs and Nova administration, we realized the need for operationalization and a home for continuity beyond the “product” itself.

In my personal and professional life, I excel at driving initiatives and sparking change, finding the right method, and getting people excited about a project. Using the design thinking approach will help me develop human-centered solutions that fulfill customer needs. I plan to apply the double diamond methodology to my problem-solving toolkit and will engage in hands-on activities to better understand complex issues.

I’ve learned that I really like to work in a fast-paced environment where everyone communicates well. This is going to help me work better in teams and be a better communicator overall. Sometimes, though, I can be a little too impatient. I’m going to try to take a step back and listen more carefully before I jump into things. Additionally, I will continue to anticipate the next steps to guide the team and find quick solutions when things go wrong.

Overall, I believe that the course “Design Thinking for Social Innovation” has helped me further advance my skill set and provided me with valuable insights to approach complex issues. I am already applying some of the methods learned in my current projects, WomenOfNinja and CEBRA, and I look forward to integrating design thinking in future endeavors.

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