Contributed by Ng Jia Wen
Back in 2018, Innothink Academy’s kid’s workshop marked the beginning of a transformation journey in Malaysia – implementation of Design Thinking in young minds. It is said that adults can draw inspiration when designing solutions for children. Therefore, Design Thinking is not age-restrictive. I had a first-hand experience of attending Innothink’s first workshop at an age of 15. I stumbled across the workshop back in November, thinking of it as a holiday activity. Fast forward into the studio, there were many unfamiliar faces. As the oldest of the group, I had to present myself as a good example. The first day of the workshop was more of a get-to-know each other session. Professional guidance was present whenever we had a roadblock during brainstorming sessions. The overall environment was dynamic and conducive for internal collaboration. No ideas nor opinions were disregarded so everyone hit off well despite changing groupmates. We also built business models as if we were conducting real business. Aside from the kid’s workshop, I have also attended the adult’s workshop which was more detailed and further in-depth. I learned that Design Thinking is an organized structure that follows a step-by-step basis. I realized that Design Thinking is not a process of guessing but a balance between analytical and intuitive thinking. With creativity, anyone, including a child can utilize Design Thinking. In particular, I was very intrigued by the methods as they required me to immerse myself in the situation of users. I had to be empathetic, emotionally understanding how the users feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine myself in their shoes. By doing so, I was able to identify the main issue and reframe the problem statement. Because most of the time people tend to jump straight into brainstorming solutions for the wrong problem statement. So, I learned to identify the game-changing statement, the affirmation that sparks inspiration for innovation. Merely putting the concept in words would not necessarily make one understand what it truly is. One has to experience it first-hand and conduct iterative work of prototyping and reframing the problem statement. Only then can they understand what they learned and apply it in their daily lives. In a nutshell, I envision younger generations establishing a network with professionals that enrich one another with the Design Thinking mindset. Ultimately generating holistic future leaders. Besides, rendering the Design Thinking mindset a norm will help formalize a path forward for more breakthroughs.