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Malala Yousafzai once said: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. In this newsletter issue, we discuss education, innovation and how the world is changing rapidly around us. I also had the pleasure of interviewing our student and Practice Lead for Business Analysis in the NSW Department of Education, Steve Hicks.

RG – Tell us a little about yourself.
SH – My name is Steve. By day I work as a business analyst and project manager in a large government department. After hours, I produce (mostly) electronic music under the name The Audio Snorkel. I won an Aria Award in 2017 for the lowest selling album of the year!

RG – What you do for work, Steve?
SH – I’ve worked in various IT roles for the past 20 years. Currently, I’m the Practice Lead for Business Analysis within the NSW Department of Education’s IT Department.

RG – In your opinion, why is innovation important in your field of work?
SH – Being a government agency, the Department of Education is in the business of providing teaching and learning services to the children of New South Wales. Applying technology to enhance and support teaching and learning is integral to the success of this mission. As technology is changing so quickly, it is important for us to stay abreast of these changes and to innovate new ways to integrate the tech into service provision. A high-quality service provision depends on our ability to design services that synthesise technology with teaching practice.

RG – When was the first time you heard about Design Thinking?
SH – I’ve been hearing about Design Thinking for the past year or so. Within NSW government it is a growing area of interest and as a practising business analyst and service designer, I’m very keen to learn more about emerging trends in the field.

RG – You have attended the Design Thinking Experience and Service Design Experience courses. How do you think the knowledge you brought back to your company can positively impact your industry?
SH – Our new strategic plan emphasises the importance of placing the student at the centre of everything we do. This implies designing services that meet evidence-based needs of students. The skills I’ve learned on the two courses I attended will be directly relevant to achieving that goal.

RG – What were your biggest learnings during Echos’ Design Thinking and Service Design Experience courses?
SH – The course was very hands on. You apply the techniques to an actual challenge. I liked that we went through the double diamond several times over the week to reinforce each stage of the process. I also like the process of testing your assumptions, insights and prototypes by questioning real customers.

RG – Are there any projects that you have already applied either Design Thinking or Service Design methodologies to?
SH – I’m currently working on a solution for the online enrolment of children into NSW public schools. It’s a digital transformation initiative and the team is using Design Thinking. We’re working in partnership with the Department of Finance, Services and Industry’s Digital Accelerator team who are DT specialists.

RG – What pearls of wisdom would you share with someone who is starting their innovation journey through Design Thinking?
SH – The Echos courses are a great introduction to Design Thinking, but it’s great if you can find a way to partner with DT specialists* on your first few major projects after completing the course. It’s a whole new way of building services and there’s a lot to get your head around so an experienced guide is invaluable. Another approach is to start small and build through experience.

RG – Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
SH – The courses are based on kinesthetic learning (learning by doing). They’re very hands-on and practical. This makes them quite engaging and helps to cement the learning in a practical context.

RG – Thanks for all the insight, Steve! To finalise, could you share a quote that inspires you?
SH – “Men plan and the gods laugh.” Design Thinking is a good mitigation against this risk as you keep testing and trimming and reshaping based on feedback as you go along.

If you would like to share with us your own experience with Echos, send us an email expressing your interest. If you would like to be a contributor to the Echos’ Blog, submit here your 500-700 words article on Design Thinking, Innovation, etc., and we’ll be in touch.

If you, like Steve, have a big project coming up on your company and would like to use *DT specialists, Echo’s consultancy services may be what you’re looking for; please send us an email.


Rani Ghazzaoui Luke

Rani is a writer and actor based in Sydney, Australia. She is Echos Head of Content & Communications, and the Editor in Chief of The Echos Newsletter.

Before joining Echos, she worked in full-service advertising agencies as a copywriter, moved onto writing for Broadcast Media, and landed on Digital Media, working first as a Digital Producer and later as a Digital Account Manager. Most recently, she was Lead Client Solutions Manager for GumGum Inc, an ad tech company specialised in Artificial Intelligence.

Rani is a highly curious individual that believes creativity and innovation are the most important tools to propel any person or business forward.

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