On April 21 Women in Big Data Forum hosted a Design Thinking training at Intel corporate headquarters in Santa Clara. 40+ women professionals got together to learn some stories in Design Thinking, understand and interpret Design Thinking model and learn to apply Design Thinking methodology hands on. Ziya Ma, Vice President of Intel Software & Services Group, and Director of Big Data Technologies, opened the day and talked about the Women in Big Data initiative, results to date and future plans.
The training was led by Vijay Keshav, Stanford Design Thinking certified instructor. Vijay has shared several empowering stories on how companies such as General Electric, JetBlue, Pulse and multiple startups use design thinking methodology to resolve their business problems. We learned how GE made the experience of MRI procedure enjoyable for kids by bringing in the elements of amusement parks to it.
JetBlue, on the other hand, began integrating design thinking principles into their corporate culture in 2007, primarily out of desperation. In the winter of 2007 a blizzard hit the northeast which shut down several major airports. Though airports were only down for about 6 hours, Jetblue’s entire operations were disrupted for 8 days. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, thousands of travelers were stranded for days, jets full of angry people were sitting on tarmacs. The solution to the problem was redesigning internal processes that allowed them to be more nimble when emergencies hit. The airline business is pretty complex, with lots of inter-organization dependencies. They gradually redesigned almost all of their operational processes through the design thinking process. After redefining their internal processes, a 24-hour airport shut-down disrupted their operations for less than a single day…which was a quicker response time than virtually all of the other airlines that had been impacted. They are also ranked number 1 in customer service now by JD Power.
We also learned that long before the term “design thinking” was invented, Thomas Edison was using many of the same principles. He focused on users first. The light bulb would’ve just been a parlor trick had he not envisioned that it also required widespread creation and transmission of electricity, which he also invented, in order to add value to users. To quote Edison – “I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.” He established the first industrial research lab and reinvented how inventors themselves innovate – instead of the lone inventor, he had dynamic teams of folks who collaborated non-stop. He prototyped right out of the gate to fail early and to learn. He once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison was the spiritual father of design thinking.
In the afternoon we enjoyed the most fun part of the training: applying the principles we’ve learned to real life examples. We worked in pairs on an end-user experience that we could improve for our customer through a design thinking process.
Vijay closed the training by sharing his view on how design thinking can be applied to the big data domain. Data analytics offers the promise of smarter, truer insights into the behavior of the world at scale. Design thinking is the converse; it offers a framework for understanding human behavior at a very granular level to design better experiences. In “The Next Era of Designers Will Use Data as Their Medium,” Mark Rolston explores what the future could look like. He describes how transition from UI-centric products to applications that run silently in the background will increase demand for data designers. By recognizing the importance of design’s relationship with data now, we can create a new generation of products that are beautifully minimal yet insight-rich.
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