Change Your Thinking to Change the World

Lofty headline, I know. But it can be a very practical approach.

As I started my journey back to journalism, specifically this new approach of social journalism, I had a very specific outcome in mind. I wanted to long form, hard hitting, important stories to uncover and help the community of ex-offenders reentering society. The goal was to show them, and the rest of society, that the answer to problems of recidivism was entrepreneurship. With ex-offenders working for themselves or on a freelance basis they could be take ownership of the way they make money in a legitimate fashion.

I still want to do this, but instead of assuming that my desired outcome will work for all, I learned that I would have to take a Design Thinking approach to be the most beneficial to the community that I chose.

What it Design Thinking? Glad you asked. Before my program at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, I had no idea either.

Design Thinking is a problem solving process of coming up with new ideas or solutions. This process begins with defining a problem and empathizing with the person or community dealing with that issue.

While I thought this was the easy part, something one of my classmates said really struck me. As we were discussing what defines a community, Kristine Villanueva made a point saying, “You can’t lump people into the masses.” Then we watched this video, a commercial from TV2 Denmark:

TV2 Denmark Commercial

It made me realize that maybe I was lumping everyone in this big group of ex-offenders who would be great entrepreneurs. My naive thinking was that most offenders were probably involved in some big illegal business operation and therefore have a business savvy mind to become an entrepreneur. While one doesn’t need prior experience to become an entrepreneur, one does need passion and work ethic. What if all ex-offenders don’t fall into that category? What will help them with successful reentry?

Well, that’s the answer I am working on finding at this point. Right now, I will implement these Design Thinking techniques to really learn about my community in all aspects, not just what I think is the solution to their problems.