We live in a world where ideas are a dime a dozen. Go to a coffee shop in any metropolitan city in the world and I will bet you one US dollar that someone there is working on an idea. The term “idea” is broad. It feels all-encompassing. This word represents something that is in your brain that might materialize in the real world. While creating ideas can sometimes feel like an easy task, the execution is the hardest part.

For the past year, I have been working in a venture capital incubator trying to help people turn their ideas into companies. As an entrepreneur myself I find this role extremely gratifying. When I joined the team, I was bright-eyed and optimistic. The stories I had heard about places like Silicon Valley were amazing. People taking their dorm room ideas and ten years later IPO’ing. I had (and still have) moonshot ambitions of incubating another unicorn company.

In the startup world, founders regularly pitch me amazing ideas about revolutionary technologies that could change the world. Unfortunately, what I learned is…

This article was originally posted in 2017 and focuses on how user-centered thinking can help make important business decisions.

illustration credit — https://undraw.co

Intro

TravelMore is an eCommerce company, which focuses on sourcing and selling travel gear. Starting in 2015 they were able to build the company from $0 to over $2,000,000 in sales to date. In the summer of 2016, they were starting to encounter a growth problem. They had designed a new backpack called the Jetpack 20L but did not know how to launch the product at scale. Their co-founder reached out to me to consult with the team as a design strategist…

The new year is upon us, so now is the time to set resolutions. As a facilitator, I get asked, “what can I do to practice design thinking regularly?” I have always been a fan of small changes to create a lasting effect. So what can we do?

This idea came to me when I attended the most recent Design at Business UnConference in Florida. My team and I thought about what could someone do daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to flex those design thinking muscles?

The list we created includes actionable ideas and curated resources packed up tight in…

The other week I got a text saying, “I need a 36 hour day.” Time is one of the few things we often feel like we do not have control of. As we get older and our lives become more hectic, how do we make time for things that matter?

Background

Last summer I took a new job in Chicago. I was living in the city and it felt like there was always something to do. Between on-boarding for my new role, my relationship, my social life and trying to stay healthy, I felt overwhelmed. I was ambitious about what I…

Working in emerging technology, I get a rare chance to envision and explore what the future might hold. Everything I do is essentially an experiment. Our process of building through failure allows us to see what will actually stick. One of the hardest parts of exploring new spaces is the desire to fall back on familiar processes. Today I want to talk about how my team and I rethought the traditional hiring process. The goal was to make it more human and collaborative when it came to locations, roles, growth, and salaries.

The Current State of Interviewing

If you have ever applied for a job…

Learn the skills that will supplement the design foundation you are building.

If you were to ask the question in my studio, “What should I learn to become a good designer?” You would receive hundreds of different answers. It is one of the reasons I love design, it has no set path. Recently I have been thinking a lot about my formal education. I wanted to take a moment and look back at what affected my practice today the most. What I found was the best classes I took in college were in not part of the design program’s curriculum…

So it happened. The moment of truth for a facilitator. A non-design executive requested a 1.5 day design thinking session. To my surprise, I ran a workshop for 11 executives to vision the future of the Security portfolio and I didn’t die.

The experience was terrifying but I saw and learned a lot which made me want to share. Below are a handful of my insights. From my observations you can avoid some of the mistakes that I made off the bat when leading executives.

Preparing did not really help

I am the first person to champion preparation. Ironing out a lot of workshops mistakes…

How to lower the cost of workshops by working remotely.

As the Design Practice Lead for IBM Security, I get the opportunity to work with a lot of product teams and clients. Our practices program focuses on applying design thinking at scale, regardless of discipline. For a lot of the teams I work with this means design thinking workshops. Over three days we solve some of their hardest problems using facilitated design activities. As we wrap up the end of a workshop participants are always curious as how to continue on with the momentum. The problem for many members of my company is that their teams are rarely in the…

Why it is important for design.

Two years ago when my brother and I asked my mom what she wanted for her 56th birthday she said, “The new iPhone”. It was surprising because my mom had always been pretty technology averse. Since 2007, she had been using the same basic cell phone. We tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted that all of her friends had smartphones and she wanted one, too. Fair enough.

The initial learning curve for her was not as painful as we anticipated. After about two weeks of using the phone she had already downloaded apps. She had become…

naveenraja

Design Thinking + Facilitation + Strategy. Often writing for @educate_iterate.

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