The power of Design Thinking — or: how to turn an office into a creative place full of inspiration

Apr 13, 2018 · 4 min read

Wednesday i had an Avocado for breakfast — they look slightly different and are way bigger than the ones you can buy at home — and the get-together at the breakfast table is always a good start into the day. We meanwhile adjusted perfectly well to the Ivorian interpretation of time. When a taxi is ordered at 8, never go there before 8:15 or the taxi driver calls you. Same for dinner, meetings, and everything else :-)

We arrived at our organization and discussed a warm-up game in the cab. Sourajit suggested the Geenie challenge (rub the lamp, get 3 wishes, and think very big). We put those wonderful ideas like be the biggest organization in Afrika educating Women in IT next to the expectactions from last day and created a very motivating wall right next to the door of the room. After that, I wanted to pick up in the fun aspect of creating personas, showed them the two painted ones from yesterday and suggested to create a young girl as a third one.

Huguette working on Jeanne, our 11 year old girl

We have now also “Jeanne” in the team, she is 11 and goes to primary school. She loves to dance and sing and would like to watch videos on YouTube but unfortunately she doesn’t have a computer to feed her curiousity. When i was starting to draw the hair Huguette immediately grabbed the pen and told me that its not the typical style for a girl. She also added a nice colourful dress and we drew it again together on paper. The three personas went on the wall to the opposite side of the room and that certainly was a nice start. Two additional personas we don’t want to focus on (the rural woman and the business partner) were put on the parking lot (the kid’s play chalkboard in the corner).

All three personas on the wall

Now comes the tough part, focusing on Problems and Challenges. Obviously there are a lot of them, and we all together start writing them on PostIts. Then we cluster and identify seven different areas which are somehow connected as Huguette discovered. Like in a Police Investigation, Sorajit starts drawing lines between the clusters like: Communication may be improved by using better Infrastructure and thus improve the whole culture of the organization. It now comes all together and even though we spent the rest of the day mapping, clustering, and voting on challenges we do now have a pretty clear picture on what lies ahead of us. Charles also brought in lots of typical problems in the country like povery, low level of education, and bureaucracy.

Huguette and Marie Estelle mapping the challenges of Amazoon Du Web

To round it up, we say that tomorrow is the day for Ideas and Solutions and ask everybody about his feelings at this moment. Surprisingly, we all feel well motivated for the next day because we are more aware of what can be improved. During this day, I could certainly feel that these women have a lot of creativity and passion inside them and that we can work really well together with this visual style of digging into the details.

The result of the day looks very sophiosticated already

In the evening I was quite exhausted, but I wanted to share this great technique also with the other three teams, so I invited to a design thinking workshop in our team room at the hotel. Knowing that the food will anyway take two hours we pre-ordered it before we started the workshop. Then we had everybody pick a super hero and explain why as a warm up game. I explained the whole process of Rules, Personas, Challenge, Reframing, Ideation, and Focussing to the folks in our fabulous Abidjan group and we had a vivid discussion about how to use it for our projects. Showing how we did it for Amazoon Du Web helped, too. Our challenge to solve was: The food always takes 2h from order to delivery. We had lots of nice ideas to solve it and also some inside on the why.

“Drink more, eat less” and “Bribe the cook” and “Eat more mangos” were nice approaches but also the why was also quite funny with “The cook always starts with the most complicated dish” and “The chicken ran away”.

We also had the first two incidents coming in: Apparently a guy in a suit controlled the traffic at a very busy junction for whatever reason, and had something against beeing photographed. He started yelling at our friends and did not stop following them until they were inside the office again. Also, a very angry taxi driver did not agree with the strategy to make a stop for buying food at the supermarket on the way back to the hotel. Our helpers from Pyxera played it cool and introduced one of them as our laywer.

We had diner in the hotel afterwards, which was supposed to be ready when we came down, but surprisingly took another 30–40 minutes after we arrived. This time, its Spaghetti Carbonara for me. We all feel a bit exhausted and fall asleep pretty well it seems.

SAP Social Sabbatical

The SAP Social Sabbatical is a portfolio of short-term…

SAP Social Sabbatical

The SAP Social Sabbatical is a portfolio of short-term volunteering assignments where SAP employees work in highly diverse teams to solve strategic challenges for NGOs in different markets across the globe.


Written by

Querstromzerspaner @ SAP

SAP Social Sabbatical

The SAP Social Sabbatical is a portfolio of short-term volunteering assignments where SAP employees work in highly diverse teams to solve strategic challenges for NGOs in different markets across the globe.