Empathy. Collaboration. Experimentation. These are the three main pillars that make Design Thinking stand tall in the art of innovating for companies worldwide. I recently sat through the three-day introductory course offered by Echos called Design Thinking Experience, and I must say that mine was nothing short of mindblowing.

Design Thinkers Juliana Proserpio and Ricardo Ruffo deliver a three-day course packed with information, yet so dynamic and collaborative that you won’t feel overwhelmed at all; also as important, in a room filled with creative gadgets, the only thing you cannot find is a dull moment!

The activities kick off on day one with an introduction to Design Thinking, its history and methodologies. Attendees come in all ages and with all sorts of professional and personal backgrounds. At arrival, everyone seems to be a bit shy, perhaps even oblivious, about the journey they are about to embark on – partly because not many people actually know what exactly Design Thinking is -, but it doesn’t take long for the wariness to turn into curiosity and for the curiosity to turn into genuine excitement fueled by the exercises specifically designed to break the status quo. Day one activities are challenging in a fun kind of way, and push participants to step out of any comfort zone they may have while working with strangers to conquer challenges; by the end of day one, people were smiling, cracking private jokes and acting like longtime friends.

Day two starts with a warm-up exercise but quickly dives into deeper waters. Yes, – I can barely contain my excitement! – now that we are all acquainted with “build to think” – the opposite of our natural impulse of thinking before doing something – we can roll up our sleeves and start with the hard graft. We are given a question to answer to; that question represents a problem we need to resolve. The second day is research heavy and gives us all a chance to speak, and listen, and do, and think, and rethink, and it opens wide our capacity of exploration when looking into a problem that needs addressing. After lunch, we all challenge ourselves even more by getting out of the safe space of our workroom and going outside to do real research by talking to people on the streets. After hearing what people have to say, we are expected to come up with a new question that reflects our actual problem, which can be very challenging, but also extremely interesting. By the end of day two, people’s confidence levels visibly rose, but the fascinating thing to me was the fact that personal points of view had dramatically changed from the beginning until the end of the day. Truly mind opening on how we should always challenge our biases in life.

The third day of the course arrives quicker than I would have liked. The experience is so enriching, I barely felt the past two days go by. We kick day three putting to practice a number of techniques that aim to answer our new question; we go from a silent brainstorm, to a guided brainstorm, to a collective brainstorm (free ideas coming from left, right and centre), to the much-anticipated prototyping phase. And yes, prototyping is as fun as one might think! Prototyping is divided into two types, “build to think” and “build to test”. Again we get on our feet and head to the streets to figure out which prototype answers our question best. Once the decision is made, we regroup and it’s time to share our prototype with our peers; excitement, pride and pure joy are all around. Day three ends with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment; the atmosphere around the room is amazing and there is a general feeling of motivation to continue to implement innovation wherever life may lead us.

It is safe to say that the Design Thinking Experience course completely shifted my way of looking at problems and, more importantly, my way of looking at how to resolve them. I would recommend to anyone who wants to be in charge of how they untie the knots in their lives to get involved as soon as possible – trust me, it will be worth it!

Rani Ghazzaoui Luke

Rani is a writer, actor and highly curious person. She is Content and Marketing Manager at Echos – Innovation Lab. Prior to joining Echos, Rani was Lead Client Solutions Manager at Gumgum, an ad tech company specialised in Artificial Intelligence.

Rani is a creative professional with a digital background. She believes creativity and innovation are the most important tools to propel any person or business forward.

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