Design Thinking — part 2

Steven Asei Dantoni #malte_in_france

So..thinking about Design Thinking again. What value did this course offer me?

To answer that question, I need to give you some context. The Design Thinking Class at ESC Pau is only one part of a bigger project, called “Global Booster”. The general idea of this project is, to give students the opportunity to work in the “real world”, for existing companies with real problems during their studies, to gather practical experience.

The Project is divided into different Groups, each group of 40 +/- x works for one company. Each Group then is divided into groups of 6 +/-1 students. The project my group is supposed to be working on — whenever we don’t have to work on other classes — kind of starts with a blank page. Our project is to develop a project that allows future students to work on projects (projectception part 1); a bit more clear: The business school aims to open a company by itself that will offer students on a regular base to use what they learn in class, by cooperating with different companies.

Whenever I’m facing a new problem, I put it one of two categories. Behind door number one is a problem that needs an immediate response: “Man, you need to update your Blog for tomorrow, you actually forgot the design thinking class” — no need to waste time, just do it.

Behind door number two are the problems of a more complex nature. Before trying to solve such problems, my first priority has always been to get as many informations as possible about the context of whatever I’m facing. Watch, listen, research. The need to understand the circumstances has helped me in various situations..and made others unneccesarily stressfull (if your similar other is complaining about something..it’s often better to just let them complain. No need to jump into the frying pan by asking contextual, unhelping questions). I really enjoyed trying this new method out — but sadly, since the project began before the course, the practical use were nearly zero (note to myself: put “Design thinking as a full workshop before the project begins” on the feedback sheet at the end of the semester). Zero at least for our initial problem.

So we did it the “old fashioned” way: Research, listen, watch. We split up, and everyone researched something to gather information. Like usual, 98% of these informations were useless after the next meeting..we decided to focus on two topics. Two out of these topics were cancelled later, to do something different: “Sports” and “Food” now became “Green School” and “not sure what name this should have, but it has something to do with exporting wine”. Green School — the name basically speaks for itself (more catchy, but less precise than the other one), was actually our attempt to find a creative solution, using the very methods we learned in the class that puts me and my three (yeah, +33% growing rate reagarding my readers!) readers in front of our PCs. Sadly, althought very creative, this project does not seem to have enough potential to be implemented. We defined the problem, we tried solutions — but, unless one of the three working on that idea does not come up with a genious idea, it just does not seem to work out.

I, pragmatic by nature, decieded to work on our other idea to have a maybe less creative, but more realistic contengency plan, if the other one does not work out. Focus. Local producers. Research. Food and Wine. Take a look at the markets..wait, the exports of the regional products are below the french average..things that do not fit always make me itchy! This was then the first point, were a class during this project actually really helped me: One of our profs likes to question us about our projects, giving us time to “get shit done”, and re-question us afterwards..so me and my two groupmates just tried to sell “our” wine and food directly to Germany and Macedonia. The result? There was an actual interest (at least for wine). So, the demand did not look like beeing the problem. Economics teaches, when there is demand and supply, there is a market. Yeah, got it. We have demand..so let’s take a look at the supply. Jurancon, the wine region in south-west france is not one of the biggest regions, but is home to around 120 wineries. I still felt itchy: Supply? Check. Demand? Check. The problem seemed to be the information between both sides, so I focussed my research on that, and: bingo. “The region of Jurancon is not well known outside of france, if known at all”. How can we change this? Who might be working on this as well? If there is someone, what might be their challenges? We found someone. We called them (during our next “get your shit done” class). We asked the right questions and gave the right informations about ourselves, because we had the right problem in mind.
Today, we had a great meeting with a represantive of an assoziation of 62 local wineries that define their two main tasks as quality management / assurance of local products as well as..
..promoting the region, both national and international.

By re-defining several times we were able to focus on the right question, and finding an actual access point that offers us now..
..access to other problems. Before this class I would not have thinked about “more problems” beeing progress, but..it actually is. Because the problems we’re facing now, are the actual problems of our potential partner. We were asked to write them a paper about us and our vision on how to work together with them. 
So this is now the part were this class will show its actual value to our project.

Bonne nuit!

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