An introductory Q&A about the first epic step of design thinking

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Build it and they will come.

This oft-misquoted line from a baseball movie captures pretty well the raison d’être of design thinking, and in particular empathy-building. Perhaps it is design thinking’s alter moniker, human-centered design, that more clearly reflects the designers’ north star: to listen to people so that we can create products and services that satisfy real human needs.

Examples abound in the tech industry with the many hardware solutions and shiny new apps that started off with grand visions, rather than key insights into human behaviour (the Segway, anyone?). Of course, lack of user insights doesn’t always lead to a catastrophic, company-folding event —especially if the team pivots quickly. Having a clear focus on building empathy (a.k.a. user research) and therefore finding real needs before making big investments will always be beneficial and sustainable for the business. …

Or, how we might adapt to COVID-19 like we eat spicy food

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Green chili dip at one of my favourite spots in Chiang Mai, along with other northern dishes

One of my favourite Northern Thai dish is the green chill dip (นำ้พริกหนุ่ม) and chicharron (แคบหมู). It’s a refreshing and sometimes spicy appetizer we order without fail every time where we head up to the cool, hip Chiang Mai, a northern province of Thailand. I say “sometimes” because it seems that my tolerance for hot spiciness varies, something I chalk up to living abroad and now living in Bangkok where the food is over-sweetened to placate the urban appetite.

Or so I thought.

My dad told me that when he was younger, this chili paste used to vary in spiciness over the seasons. He grew up in Payao, another northern province about an hour and a half away from Chiang Mai. During the summer, he said, when water was scarce, the spicy chemicals concentration increased (capsaicinoids, presumably), and intensified the spiciness in each bud of chili. Using the same amount of chili every time to make the “meat” of the dip, people would end up with the same chili paste that is just a little bit spicier, in sync the summer heat. …

How might the collective action of a million people manifest itself?

After a month and a half after shelter-in-place measures in Bangkok, it came to nobody’s surprise that hair salons and barbershops all over town were to be among the first businesses to re-open, with appropriate caution of course. Haircuts are one of those quotidian services that I don’t think about until I really need it, at which point I will promptly bombard my barber with messages asking for the next available appointment (ideally tomorrow!).

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Exhibit A: Socially non-distancing protestors during COVID-19 with reasonable length hair

We’ve written about hair before (by way of probing questions) and clearly, hair styles are important to people’s identities — so much so that some Americans will take to the streets during a pandemic (see Exhibit A). …

Artist, Scientia Fellow, SEAsia Obama Leader, and all-around funny human being engage us with climate change through tangible moments of speculation.

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Image courtesy of artist

This interview was published in the author’s previous personal blog, Sustainable by Design in 2015. It is syndicated here with modifications, in anticipation of her upcoming talk with Speculative Futures Bangkok on June 10th, 2020.

Early September 2015, back when political discourse at least feigns optimism for environmental issues, I attended a curious exhibition organized by swissnex San Francisco on the fashion of climate change — the Apocalypse project. It was an eye-opening glimpse into the role of art in public conversation for someone who, at the time, was squarely in the science and engineering side of the fence on climate change. I wanted to get to know the person behind the art so in the weeks that followed, Ms. …

Hint: everything is feedback

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This is a reflection on teaching prototyping, based on a corporate design workshop. Some details of the brief, work, people, comments have been changed. Absolutely no knock-off Legos were harmed.

A reflection on systems starting from design thinking

I remembered that the Snoopy Museum was much closer to Tokyo Station where my family usually stays when we visit the capital. We had visited once before but forgot to buy advanced tickets. It was not, as Google Maps told me earlier this year, an hour away by express train. My memory had not failed me: turns out it was moved from Roppongi area in September 2018 and re-opened at the end of 2019 at Grandberry Park mall in the Machida district.

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It was a chilly January morning, the day after my birthday to be exact, when we spent JPY 510 (THB 153 or USD 4.77) per train ticket and set off to the only official satellite Snoopy Museum outside of Santa Rosa, California. At the Minami-Machida station, we were greeted by yard signs of Snoopy befitting a political candidate during election season. Though there were plenty of wayfinding in English and Japanese, they were unnecessary — we just followed the crowd that all but emptied the train. …

On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this workshop to a friend?

(I started writing this article prior to the pandemic and took the time to pause and to reflect about previous workshops I’ve attended or facilitated. Of course, I do not endorse in-person gatherings of any kind at this moment time. Stay virtual, people!)

Recently, I’ve found myself both sides of this question — as facilitator of my fair share of workshops on design research and as participant on multiple other design sessions. …

What we learned from a conversation with foodies, food experts, food providers, and of course — designers.

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Simple Thai dish (usually without onions is better).

What does our food system look like in Thailand in the year 2022? This is the question we posed to a virtual gathering of the Bangkok chapter of Speculative Future, our second event in the year 2020, as we build towards our goal of creating a space for collaborative learning about all things futures thinking. 2022, we thought, is an imaginable future not so soon after this pandemic blows over (fingers crossed), yet not so far away that we might feel disconnected to the experiences of everyday kind of food.

We had a delicious virtual conversation on a Saturday afternoon, making use of a collaborative “whiteboard” via Miro, to facilitate the discussion. This was the first of what we hope to be many of our “Future Conversations” series, where we pick a topic and invite stakeholders and enthusiasts in our community to join a lightly-guided discussion based on a particular design field. For this call, we dipped our toes into strategic foresight and experimented with a light version of the methodology as co-creation-esque effort, on the topic of food. …

Hello world!

We are a small council of carbon-12’s tasked with public relations with other Spaceship Earth-lings. We are reaching out to you on behalf of the group you call GHG, or the Greenhouse Gases. Can we have your attention too?

We know we’re not as flashy or viral (pun intended) as our less airborne, yet acutely menacing baby cousin COVID-19. They seem to have caught your attention and even wrote a thing imparting advice on being mindful and all that — so we thought we should too. …

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Take a moment to breath deeply. We can’t personally control pandemics, so how can we adapt to survive as businesses? Photo by author.

Crisis (n.) — a time of great disagreement, confusion, or suffering

The current pandemic that we are living through is a crisis that offers new opportunities, albeit in unequal measures for different people. In our roles as design strategists looking to make businesses thrive and make life better, we, as design strategists, spend most of our time listening to stories from people and will continue to do so to understand just what the “new normal” might be.

Though we are only at the beginning of changes to come, we see two points of reflection for businesses in moving forward:

Do what you do, make it digital

At the most functional and immediate level, businesses must go digital to survive. If digital transformation was a buzzword, now it could be the silver bullet that saves your company. This is everything from going online with work processes like billing and meetings to fully immersing your product offerings in what Joseph Pine calls the experience economy. If your product is non-digital, how can you make it a service, digital or otherwise, that can thrive in the age of social distancing? One benefit of this as food becomes meal service and exercise classes becomes virtual social networks, is that society will place more value on intangible, digital experiences. …


Paricha 'Bomb' D.

Engineer by training, Designer in the making

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