Creating a Design Thinking culture on the Ashesi Campus

The Ashesi Design Lab (D:Lab) is an initiative which combines the concepts of design thinking and design making; design thinking or strategy design for problem-solving, and design making or fabrication for making things more tangible and building out the creative outcomes of the different processes involved in both concepts. The Ashesi D: Lab started work in September 2015.

In leveraging design thinking in business innovation, the D: Lab focuses on assisting students and faculty of the University as well as corporate bodies with a variety of innovation projects in fields of business, society, and policy such as health, energy, food and agriculture to name a few. We do this through the D: Lab Fellows program which engages the Ashesi community in capacity-building in design thinking and the D: Lab Consult which offers high strategic value to corporate clients and design experience to students through collaborative work on projects. These two programs are supported by the D: Lab Storytelling (sensemaking and visualization) and D: Lab FabHub (Fabrication).

Projects in the D:Lab are non-scoring projects that keep the interest of design thinking within the Ashesi Community. Students that participate in D:Lab events, usually want to know more about design thinking and the applications of the concepts without being graded. Some of the events organized every week in the D:Lab are:

D:Lab Content Series- The main aim of the Content series is to increase the level of design thinking capacity building in the Ashesi Community, a team consisting of students and faculty members are formed with the intent of developing a content workshop on design thinking. These content workshops are held on Tuesday evenings. Another aim is to help create a culture of design thinking were everyone talks about and applies it. We also believed that the best way for students to learn the concepts was to teach the concepts, that is why students led the sessions. The content series was started by Theodore Philip Asare, Coordinator for Design Thinking (Ashesi D:Lab)

Design Thinking Content Series led by Gumiso Chisi 20'

D:Lab Fellows Workshops- These workshops engages the Ashesi Community in capacity-building in design thinking. Individuals come to the Lab with ideas or no ideas and the D:Lab helps refine these ideas into actionable and innovative solutions that solve a need. These workshops are done using frameworks such as journey maps, empathy map, Business Model Canvas etc.

D:Lab Maker Series: The Maker Skills Sessions provides the space and technology to bring ideas to life. These sessions host several resource persons and expects in digital fabrication (including 3D printing), 3D modeling software, rapid prototyping skills and Storytelling which includes but is not limited to writing, digital marketing, music, creative arts, graphic design, fashion and photography. The Maker Skills Series was started by Carl Agbenyenga, Coordinator for Design Making (Ashesi D:Lab).

Apart from these events organized every week, the D:Lab also serves as a consultancy to the Ashesi community. Students, Faculty and staff come to the D:Lab for consultations on idea generations, scaling businesses, business and strategy, prototyping, 3D printing and business modeling. The D:Lab also consults for external individuals and organizations outside the Ashesi Community. Some of the organizations that have used our services are UNA agency, Burro, etc.

My role as a coordinator is to help coordinate and create a design thinking culture on the Ashesi campus. Design thinking is a creative problem solving process that uses a systems perspective approach in identifying problems which focuses on the user. Due to this fact, i coordinate projects in the Lab and help staff, faculty and students apply design thinking to projects they work on.