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Discuss about the Reflective Report on Design Thinking for Personal Development.

For presenting the reflective writing, a blog was created explaining the purpose of reflective writing. This blog has four pages including the home page giving the brief of different sections divided into different pages that include learning, self-analysis, reflection, evaluation, personal development and action plan for improvement. The home page content is presented below:

Learning: This section would include the brief of what I have learnt in the class on design thinking and entrepreneurship. It would not include the module details but the brief on lessons learned from my curriculum. The topics explored here try to explain the connection between entrepreneurship and design thinking. It would also include the models that could be used by start-up organizations for bringing innovation in the organization. This includes exploration of innovation cycle, business models, frameworks, tools, etc. And topics like notion of creativity, role of creativity in entrepreneurship and innovation, role of designing in business, use of creativity in organizations, approaches to study creativity, organisational influences on learning creativity, and strategies that can be used for enhancing innovation through the use of design thinking.

Self Analysis: This section includes my own analysis of the strengths and weaknesses considering my ability to become an entrepreneur and use design thinking for personal development and innovation. For self-analysis, some questions would be answered which would help me understand my goals, how I learn, and how my learning process could help in personal development. Another tool that is used for self analysis is SWOT in which I have explored the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats I have with respect to use of design thinking for innovation in start-up organizations (Bulman & Schultz, 2013).

Reflection: In this section, first the key outcomes of learning from the course on design thinking and entrepreneurship that include development of the skills required for developing a new business concept, learn skills and techniques required for critical thinking, and assessment of self for understanding my potential to use design thinking for innovating in an entrepreneurial setting (Chiranjeevi, 2009).

Evaluation: This section would assess the self-analysis and reflective analysis to find out if the methodologies and techniques used in these two methods of learning and personal development have been effective for my personal development. The underlying models and theories that helped develop a plan for the analysis would be explored for justification

Personal Development: This section would explore how learning in the course has helped me in personal development. This would be based on the insights obtained in the self-analysis and reflection. The insights would help me understand how the skills and concepts learned can help me in developing myself to better prepare for the business world and use design thinking for innovation (Hilliard, 2006).

Self-Analysis

Action Plan: On this page, an action plan including milestone dates for key events and activities would be developed. The objectives of this plan would be acquisition of knowledge, attainment of skills and behaviours required for personal development. The action plan would be prepared for learning and enhancement in the period of 6 months.

This reflection report is prepared to reflect upon my studies on design thinking and entrepreneurship. First, a self-analysis is done on me for understanding my strengths and weaknesses as well as performance capabilities. For this, a series of steps defined as per the self-assessment methodology are used. The report also uses a specific reflection methodology using which the reflective process is carried out in specific number of steps.

Self-analysis would be conducted using a standard self-assessment methodology involving following steps:

Defining purpose: The purpose of this analysis is to understand if I have the capability to use design thinking for innovation and as an entrepreneur in practice.

Developing performance criteria: The criteria that would be used for assessing my learning skills would be my understanding of the concepts, my strengths with respect to the acquisition of skills needed and weaknesses that I need to overcome (Lucas, 2012).

The assessment would involve answering a few questions like:

My goals for learning design thinking for innovation in entrepreneurship are:

  • Understand how design thinking works and learn to apply the same for innovation
  • Explore how design thinking could be useful for managing innovation in start-up activities
  • Explore the skills I have to understand if I am ready to use design thinking for innovation
  • Develop skills required for application of design thinking for innovation
  • Understand how design thinking is used by organizations to develop new products
  • Learn the design thinking skills for product development(McGregor & Cartwright, 2011)

I would need the following resources for learning and gaining skills to apply design thinking for innovation:

  • Lessons taught in the class for learning the concepts
  • Projects to work on application of design thinking for innovation
  • Case studies and readings on use of design thinking so that I can learn how these are being practiced by companies
  • Books on design thinking and on cases of companies using design thinking for new product development
  • Video lectures teaching design thinking accessible online
  • Practice assignments for product development using design thinking approaches(Schön, 1983)

I can apply my design thinking to develop prototype of products which would reflect upon my progress in learning design thinking. I can also use the process for resolving existing business issues that I read about and if I can resolve any case then it will show that I have a good progress in terms of learning design thinking and gaining creative skills required for innovation. I would use the blog that I am creating to publish the design ideas that I would come up with as another mark of progress in the field.

The lessons I learned in my curriculum helped me to understand the fundamentals of design thinking such as creativity, problem solving, applied thinking, design thinking principles, business challenges such as growth, predictability, maintaining relevance, competition, standardization, creative culture, strategy and organization and design thinking approaches such as storytelling, , strategic foresight, sense making, maintaining relevance, value redefinition, experience design, humanization, rapid prototyping, and business model design.

I found myself weak in developing skills to empathise with users for understanding them and developing a real product or service prototype based on identification of solutions.

I discovered that I am good in defining problems, brainstorming for solutions and evaluating the innovation for its effectiveness which I can use for learning and using design thinking. Besides these, I have certain skills that can be productive for developing me for entrepreneurship such as:

  • I am capable of gong through ups and downs in life and still have strength to cope without losing patience or hope.
  • Once have a goal set in my mind, I can be very focused on what I want to achieve. For my current growth path, I am very particular that I want to learn about product development and use design thinking to come up with new product ideas.
  • I am good with people and can understand them well which can be useful while I learn to practice empathy for understanding consumers
  • I also good with defining problems that I am facing clearly which would again be very useful in exploring the challenges that I can come up with the solutions for by applying design thinking(Verplanken, 2003)

I can use the concepts and principles learned about the design thinking in the real scenarios for the development of innovation when I join a start-up company or start my own. For better learning and practice, I can join a start-up firm as it has more openness to innovate and thus, I would be able to use design thinking to practice it for bringing innovation in the company. This way, I will not just get the practice but would also get opportunities to learn how these companies make use creativity for bringing innovation in their products and services.

What are the threats that I am likely to face in the process of development?

Threats I can face that would hinder my personal development with respect to the development of the capacity to innovate using design thinking include:

  • If I do not get an opportunity to work for a company that is innovative but a company that uses traditional methods for development and are not open to using creativity, my learning would be hindered and thus, I would lose my capability to use creativity and bring innovation
  • Another threat that I may face is my incapability to learn to use creative techniques of design thinking for bringing innovation

Determine performance attributes: I explored the subject and my own learning to identify the current weaknesses and strengths that I have with respect to development of the design thinking capability. I explored myself around my capabilities to give the best in every stage of the design thinking process including empathy, problem definition, brainstorming for ideas, prototype development and innovation evaluation.

Determine and collect criteria evidences: I need to learn and develop my skills of understanding the stakeholder needs and developing prototypes of products or services involving design thinking. Based on the understanding of self and the lessons learned, this self-assessment report was prepared (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).

To be able to reflect upon my learning about design thinking for innovation and entrepreneurship, a reflection methodology can be used which identified steps that goes into a reflection. The steps include recognition of a need, exploration of past experience, documenting of the lessons learned, organization of lessons into specific themes, identification of key lessons and their generalization, determination of any need for other processes and evaluation of the quality of reflection.

Need: The need of this reflection is to explore if I have sufficiently understood the concepts of design thinking to be able to contribute in a real scenario of design development or do I need to gain some more knowledge and experience

Experience: Design thinking has become popular in organizations that try to use it for innovate products, services, and processes.   In practice, what I have observed is that designing thinking is more than actual thinking to politics of involvement caused by influences and more than the question on how design thinking helped innovate companies, I could see design managers talking more about things like who owns design, how much of design thinking to do and who has to be sold the design to.

Lessons Learned: Design thinking is a term with controversies as I could see a variety of different views of the creative process of design thinking. I identified some common themes in all the explorations of design thinking such as:

  • Not necessarily for creative’s: The design thinking can be used even by those who are not originally creative in their endeavours for innovation in business.
  • Stakeholder perspectives consideration: Another theme suggested that design thinking needs one to explore ideas considering the perspectives of the final users or stakeholders in case of development of a product or a service such that the probability of failure is reduced.
  • Problem Solving: Design thinking is a problem solving approach that is human centred such that user problems are explored.
  • Explore possibilities: It is about exploring possibilities such that they are presented to the stakeholders to identify what would work best. It is an iterative process which keeps on improving the prototype after suggested improvements after testing.

As I understood that design thinking goes through a series of steps including empathy for customers, definition of problems, exploration of ideas, prototype development, and evaluation of innovation through feedback, I discovered that empathy was the most important step and also a difficult one. It needs gathering of a lot of information and development of confidence in own capabilities to be able to understand the needs of customers.

Design thinking in layman terms needs asking of certain questions to move from the stage of confusion about innovation or idea generation to the actual prototyping. These include asking what we are studying, explore what if possibilities, identifying what would work based on which a prototype can be made and tested for its capability to solve the problems identified.

Design thinking can help find new solutions to traditional problems using the insights obtained from the data analysis which is the first point of development. The power of data analysis is used for understanding what

Power of data can help understand the end users or consumers for those a product or service is being developed. With design thinking, newer challenges of the modern business world can be solved. During my learning, I came across some of the companies that used design thinking to solve their problems such as AirBnB. AirBnB was facing major issues at the start-up stage as it was not able to make enough sales and the founders were facing some financial crunches. When they used design thinking, they collected data from the people who were travelling and were looking for lease placed. The company discovered that the pictures posted on the website were taken by the house owners who were not skilled in photography skills and thus, the photographs did not appear very attractive when they were used for advertisements. However, after this discovery, the company sent its own people to take some good photographs of some homes that were used in the advertisements which got the company huge number of visitors and the business that had slowed down got the momentum with this innovative approach (Mootee, 2013).

P&G is another organization that I followed to explore how they used design thinking for innovation. I found that P&G was known for using design thinking to solve its business problems. The company had taken an initiative to promote design thinking among those who were not the designers (Chiranjeevi, 2009). An example of the use of design thinking by P&G team for product innovation was the makeover of its herbal essences range. For gathering empathetic data to understand consumers of herbal products, the company asked consumers to shop for the items that they considered herbal  and they were presented with the below the ground product ranges such as health food and herbal tea. A new equity of P&G herbal range was created considering the colour, logo, and shape based on the how these characteristics are perceived by consumers (Cohan, 2010).

I also learned how design thinking is perceived and practiced in corporate through exploration of the views of the popular design experts from the University. Major findings from this exploration were:

  • Design thinking utilizes abductive logic to invent a future through intuitive thinking which is more creative than analytical deductive or inductive reasoning
  • Observation is one of the best tools of design thinkers that can help an observer understand consumers more deeply and holistically.
  • Imagination can be another great tool of innovators as they can see people looking at or using products to understand how innovation would fit a real scenario(Green, 2009)

To see if the reflection and self-analysis have been effective, they have to be evaluated to determine if the processes have been effective (Smith, 2011). The self-analysis was done using some questions that explored the process of learning and my own skills. With this approach of self-assessment, I was able to discover my strengths and weaknesses with respect to my capability to learn and apply design thinking and act as an entrepreneur in a real scenario.

With my weaknesses known, I can create a learning path for myself so that I can learn and develop myself professionally to become a better business person or a better performer in the field of innovation. The assessment also helped me understand where my strengths are in terms of design thinking which would be useful for me to learn design thinking concepts fast. I now know that I do not need to learn everything from scratch but I already have some skills needed for my development of design thinking which I can use during application of thinking but I do have the need to learn and practice more of empathy so that I can better understand the users through the exploration. Reflection helped me identify design thinking methods like observation and imagination that are essential to become creative so as to bring innovation. I am not a person who has creative skills like imagination. I have never tried observation for understanding consumers but now after knowing the importance of observation, I can use it as a practice while observing the world which would help me do innovation in the product development and other business processes that I am keen to work on (NHS, 2012).

Conclusion

In this reflective report, I explored my learning in the field of design thinking in innovation and entrepreneurship which helped me identify what I have learnt over the course and what skills I have or have gained through the curriculum that can help me shape my career. It also helped me identify my strengths that I would use for my personal development and my weaknesses that I plan to improve upon for my personal development. For this, I have developed an improvement plan for 6 months which is presented below in four parts that include identification of my strengths, priorities, development needs and action steps. This plan is created assuming that it would begin from the next week of this month on 11th Oct 2017.

Key Strengths

Resilience, perseverance, goal setting, determination, and people skills of understanding and building relationships

My Priorities

I want to learn design thinking for product development and thus, I would explore it for product development cases and would take up a job in the same profile after having learnt about the same

Development Needs

Reason

Goal

Benefits

Obstacles

Overcoming obstacles

Resources needed

Availability of resources

Observation Skills

Empathy to consumers

Prototyping

It is the first step of design thinking

It would help understand needs

For developing products

Learn design thinking

Learn to empathise with users to understand their needs

Product prototype development

Better design thinker

Better understanding of consumers

Application of design thinking for actual product development

Lack of time

Lack of skills needed

Lack of knowledge

Create a timetable

Learn from experts

Read and study more

Self-exploration

Reading and lectures

Reading & practice

I can do it myself

Available in college and on internet

Books are available

Software available for application

Action Steps

Approach

Milestone Dates

1. Learn more about design thinking

Exposure

Education

Experience

20th Oct 2017

2. Explore cases where design thinking has been used for product development

Education

15th Nov 2017

3. Take up a project in product development department in a start-up organization

Exposure

Experience

1st Dec 2017

4. Apply design principles for solving problems and overcoming challenges at work

Exposure

31st Dec 2017

5. exploring challenges and opportunities for learning and practicing design thinking and coming up with ideas

Exposure

Education

15th Jan 2018

6. Discussing ideas with seniors and coming up with plans for product development or improvements

Exposure

Experience

20th Jan 2018

7. identify products I am interested to develop

Education

1st Feb 2018

8. Create a prototype of the product

Exposure

Experience

22nd Mar 2018

8. test the prototype I will have developed for my own products

Experience

Exposure

1st  Apr 2018

9. Develop a business plan for my own venture

Education

Exposure

20th Apr 2018

Bulman, & Schultz. (2013). Learn by Doing. Reflective Practice in Nursing, 232.

Chiranjeevi, C. (2009). P&G’s ‘Design Thinking’ Initiative: The Innovation Lessons. IBSCDC.

Cohan, P. (2010). How Procter & Gamble Designs Change. Forbes.

Green, S. (2009, November 13). Applying Design Thinking to Your Business. HBR.

Hilliard, C. (2006). Using structured reflection on a critical incident to develop a professional portfolio. Nursing standard, 21(2), 35-40.

Lucas, P. (2012). Critical reflection. What do we really mean? Auckland University of Technology .

McGregor, D., & Cartwright. (2011). Developing Reflective Practice: A guide for beginning teachers. McGraw-Hill Education.

Mootee, I. (2013). Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can't Teach You at Business or Design School. Wiley.

NHS. (2012). The Leadership Framework for Self assessment tool. NHS Leadership Academy.

Schön, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. Temple Smith.

Smith, M. D. (2011). A Comparative Analysis of Reflection and Self-Assessment. Valparaiso University.

U.S. Department of Education. (2014). Professional Learning Strategies Self-Assessment Tool. U.S. Department of Education.

Verplanken, B. a. (2003). Reflections On Past Behavior: A Self-Report Index of Habit Strength. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1313-1330.

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