Design thinking at Proakatemia
This essay explains how design thinking can lead to change and compares the process to Proakatemia’s pathway to success. I see Proakatemia as a test-field orientated towards self-development, therefore I decided to use design thinking process steps from the book by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans Designing your life (2019). The steps are twisted in a way to apply them to our life and improve it, even if we have already an awesome life.
I think we are very passionate about our own ideas and especially the first ones. That’s problematic and in fact dangerous. I have fallen for that trap many times myself, not understating why it failed since it was such a great idea in the first place, right? To get results we need to think more about what our desired outcome is and instead of having an actual goal just set the direction. Open mind and right attitude help to get there as problem solving is not linear. Difficult problems usually cannot be solved by an individual and some problems just cannot be solved. We should accept them. It’s sometimes hard to see, book mentioned before calls them “gravity problems” and gives example of a person complaining about the difficulty of riding a bicycle uphill. Cyclist puts the blame on the gravity – that cannot be solved. Instead, different solutions can be applied, like improving fitness or getting a better bicycle. It’s a funny example, but many of us have tried to solve similar ones in our life.
Design thinking does help to solve these difficult problems. I have heard about it for years, but to be fair I didn’t really understand it until recently. At least not in a way that I could list the elements as I will do below. As well as how we can apply it in so many ways. One of them is our own life and the direction we head to.
Curiosity – it starts with asking questions and looking for opportunities. It helps to make things more interesting. More important than being passionate about a specific subject is curiosity, as there are very few of us who know what they are passionate about it. It’s usually after we have tried something out, we get to discover that this is the thing. Sadly, when we find out, it won’t fix all our problems. Therefore, let’s not stress about our passions.
The original first step in design thinking is to empathize because before we can define the real problem, we need to get familiar with the situation and people who are the end-user. In this case, it is us.
Bias to action – it helps to take things forward. The right attitude is the key. When doing things instead of just talking and contemplating about them we can go ahead try it out and progress. That’s the stage where we can find out what drives us, where we can thrive, what gives us energy, and what drains us. By doing, we can challenge the status quo and face the reality.
Reframing – to continue the cycle above we need to forget about the one outcome and embrace the change. Reframing lets us step back and look at the problem again. If we don’t embrace the change, we will easily get stuck. It’s quite same road we might take with our own idea. The first one is never good. The difference is that it is easy to drop out of the project we don’t want to be part of anymore. What about the life that we don’t like everything about and continue to live blindly? Only by looking at the process and comparing it to our values we can reframe our problem. It’s not easy, but necessary, if we want to stay true to ourselves.
Awareness – trust the process (haha!). Knowing it’s the process is perhaps enough. Things won’t be always pretty, and we will mess up. Personally, I think the crucial part is to just let go and accept it. This is the stage where additional learning happens after reframing the problem. We can find out our strengths and weaknesses, which helps us to grow and adjust in the right direction. Personally, I think strict goals are a little bit overrated and can lead to dissatisfaction because even if we complete 80% of them, the 20% will be weighing on us. New goals always come up and it’s a never-ending cycle. While setting the direction mentioned before leaves more room for fine-tuning and surprises.
Radical collaboration – finally the last element. The best results are always delivered by the team. It’s the most important element of design thinking and great outcomes. Design and entrepreneurship go hand in hand in my mind as both are very complex. It’s a team sport and asking for help from the community is essential.
I think it’s interesting and worth looking into process because I found some similarities to Proakatemia values. Trust, Courage, Doing, Learning, Success. It takes a lot of work to build trust, but it perhaps starts with curiosity, we take first steps to get to know each other and slowly start working together. It builds up the courage and leads towards the action. We want to try things out, fail, learn, and repeat while avoiding same mistakes. In the same way as we reframe the problem in design thinking process, we reflect on our actions at Proakatemia, learn and develop. At the core of both processes lays the community and cooperation. In both processes we get into details and slowly work towards the better outcome.
Process explained above can be applied in variety of different situations and is not linear, I see it as another tool used to let it be shaping my life or service development. I highly recommend to test it yourself.