Design thinking for professional productivity

Lee applauds as participant Dalia Ali shares her take-home from the three-day programme.
Lee applauds as participant Dalia Ali shares her take-home from the three-day programme.

PETALING JAYA, April 21 — Acquiring design thinking enables individuals to do their jobs better and be more productive.

With this in mind, executives from several organisations came together for a three-day Design Thinking Re-bootcamp — a training programme for decision-makers and leaders who drive an organisation’s culture — at Genovasi (M) Sdn Bhd.

“Genovasi wants Malaysia to embrace Design Thinking as a core process, so when we make decisions, we look for solutions and appear to be a little bit smarter.

“We are already smart, we want to become a little smarter,” chief executive officer Datuk Lee Yew Meng said yesterday.

“Design Thinking is for everyone. Once you learn the process and learn how to empathise, you will be able to do your job better and be more productive.

“When you empathise, you connect with the other person. When you connect, you are able to deliver correctly and the other person will reciprocate.”

Participants were taught five points starting with empathy and define followed by ideate, prototyping and finally, the test.

“This programme offers participants an immersive and experiential experience on design thinking,” Genovasi director of programming Firdaus Zulkifli said.

“It helps them discover their creative confidence because to be an innovator requires creativity and implementation.”

The core programme was designed by Stanford College and over the past three years, representatives from the California-based centre for professional development have played the role as facilitators.

“While we drew inspiration from Stanford College and Household Platinum Institute in South Africa, it is the first time this programme has been designed and facilitated by Genovasi staff,” said Firdaus.

Thus the new name DT Re.bootcamp as it’s customised to suit the local market, work ethics and focused to help participants reboot their thinking process.

“It is fulfilling for us to carry out this programme as we see clear transformation.

“At the end of the programme, we hear participants saying they never believed they could achieve this.”

And, Firdaus added, that’s inspiring for them as facilitators.

The CEO added he had confidence that Genovasi could achieve this success, pioneering the programme locally.

“It an important occasion for us. I have always thought we can do it, because the fundamentals of Design Thinking are all there.

“It all depends on how we apply ourselves. Customising it to suit Asian society is good because we stress 

on community.

“We stress on piety and respect for elders while Americans stress on equality across all ages and this sometimes leads us to be more subservient and we sometimes carry this to the limit.”

Design Thinking is taught by carrying out exercises versus lectures and notes and Genovasi uses real world challenges as examples.

The project challenge partner for this session was Maxis whereby, Genovasi scoped out the challenges faced by the company and participants were tasked to redesign its learning experience using digital tools.

On the final day, a surprise facilitation session was organised where participants facilitated a group of strangers in the design thinking process they had learnt within a three-hour session.

“It is only when you teach do you have a better understanding of what was learnt and you experience being a facilitator,” DT coach Zaleha Rahman said.

“It helps build creative confidence.

“From our experience, it works better from the top-down versus bottom-up, as doers are less likely to carry out changes if it is not supported by management,” said Zaleha.

Participant Dalia Ali learnt the importance of empathy and to understand people’s emotional feelings behind their decisions.

“I also learnt the importance of listening properly and not assuming people don’t understand the question.”

“My takeaway, besides learning about empathy and listening attentively, is about being ambitious by not starting out big,” fellow participant Sheela Ratnam from Frogasia said.

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