Friday, April 2, 2010

Design thinking on a personal level

Today I had this wonderful opportunity to meet the other facilitators for Symposium Neue Thinken, which is happening this coming Saturday (and yes! I'm getting a free t-shirt! :) ) And from what I see, these facilitators are not just students, they are really good student leaders, founders and pioneers of their own social initiative. I met the founder of, as well as the co-founder of Moolah. I felt kind of shadowed because I wasn't the founder of Project Ahead, just the successor, and not to mention the chair of this whole event was there as well, and gave us an awe-inspiring session on the concept of facilitation and it was really an eye-opener for me. I had already taken back so much from tonight, I just wonder how much more I will take back on Saturday.

But anyway, the topic I would like to discuss in this post is again on design thinking, hence this pretty venn-diagram that I had used back in the very first post of my revamped blog. I decided to bring it up because it was actually brought up today during the meeting. Actually, what was brought up was not design thinking on a personal level, it was about basically, acheiving a balance between our strengths, passion, and what the world needs. Some of you may jump ahead already in fact. When I saw the venn diagram drawn on the board, I instantly thought of design thinking, and sure enough, the answer to this question, "how can i bring design thinking to a more personal level", a question which I had been thinking about for about 3 months, finally came to me.


Well, you are passionate about something, so naturally you would desire to do it.


If you're good at something, it is definitely feasible for you to try doing it.


You cannot just keep your talents and passion to yourself, as human beings, as social animals by nature, we have an obligation to serve a cause greater than ourselves as well. The good news is, there is always a way to translate whatever you enjoy and are good at to something the world needs. It's all a matter guessed it... creativity.

So to bring you all to see the big picture, we are talking about design thinking, for designing your purpose in life. Ultimately, the questions you should be asking yourself ( and I should be asking myself as well) is, "What makes me happy?" , "What am I good at?" and "What can I do to serve my community?" The ultimate objective is to find one single answer, which can answer all 3 of these questions, and that is your purpose in life, and that is what you should be doing.

For me, after contemplating long and hard. I feel I have finally reached an answer. I like to invent things, and not just "things", I invent ideas, theories, philosophies and concepts as well. In fact, I have not invented any"thing". But I have invented many short stories, the triple personality theory, the new perspective of the mind, body and soul, the creativity exercise for SNT, and many hare-brained solutions to handle my personal oddities. I realised that the process of "inventing" these new concepts and stuff make me very happy.

But I don't want to stop there, after going through a module on entrepreneurship, I've been thinking about inventing world-changing products and designs as well. And being inspired by Tim Brown and IDEO, I've also been thinking about inventing services and processes. Essentially, I enjoy 'Renaissance inventing'(as i call it), where inventions just aren't about technology and hard science, but also about the metaphysical and the human factor.

And again for those who jump ahead of me, you would probably realise that the first 2 questions are very closely related. If you enjoy something, as long as you have the discipline and the perserverance to push on, high chances are that you will be good at it as well. The main question is how can we actually push these 2 factors into the 'viability' portion of the venn-diagram, or rather, how can we translate it into something the world needs.

For me, it is simple, I simply need to invent things to change the world. What about others whose interests are intrinsically more subjective? Recently, I've watched this rather interesting TED talk on how interpretive dance can raise awareness of social issues in India. Essentially, the lady was doing what she loved (I apologise, I can't remember her name), but at the same time she was bringing awareness of the sufferings of people, especially women, in India, to authorities who had come watch her performance.

Even something like the arts can help in social change, so even if you are the next Van Gogh or Michaelangelo, it doesn't mean you should be stuck in your atelier painting your fantasies and not care about the world. What if you could paint a picture of social issues, using your artistic talents to make it catchy, and thus bring about this awareness to members of the community?

So to sum it up, I strongly believe that we MUST do something that makes us happy, and we MUST have the discipline and the will to be good at it, and we MUST have a heart to give back to society. This is design thinking to help change our own lives. (note the 'experience innovation', you are innovating your own experience.)

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