Your work is a narrative that threads through your life.

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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Let’s take a moment to reflect upon a common question grown-ups tend to ask us when we’re growing up:

It’s a question with good intentions but it’s not the most helpful to ask yourself because it assumes that what you want to be when you grow up is something that is final, fixed and absolute.

What I’d like to offer is a different perspective inspired by a message from my manager at Siri at the time on my 30th birthday when I was trying to figure out the next step in my work…

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“What would you do differently if you started your company today?” my friend asked me over coffee the other day. “My biggest learning was from not building my startup as a sustainable business from Day 1,” I responded.

“What do you mean?” she asked, slightly puzzled. I explained that I had been so excited about how ‘cool’ our product and UX was that I forgot about making sure the right business fundamentals were there from the start. “Having the right fundamentals would have turned my startup into an actual business that could sustain itself over the long term through profit.”

Had I been more aware about the business fundamentals of my startup upfront, I would have made different decisions. In the past, I had made decisions as a designer or product manager. But as a founder of a company, I was required to make decisions as a business owner.

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Design thinking 101

Let’s begin by getting ourselves clear on the question: What is design thinking?

Many people have an impression that design thinking has something to do with being artistic, having a sense of aesthetics, style or is reserved for those who create beauty or have an inherent sense of creativity.

Turns out design thinking has nothing to do with these things. What design thinking really is, is a process for problem solving.

You can think of design thinking as a powerful tool in your toolbox for problem solving. Many people see creative folks such as UX designers, product managers or creative employees use design thinking. But actually, design thinking can be used by anyone who seeks to infuse creative problem solving into every level of an organization, product or service in order to drive new innovation for business and society. …


Mohammed Abdoolcarim

Stanford Product Design. Former Google, Siri and Apple Product Manager.

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