Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Design Thinking

Last week, I attended a meetup about design thinking in Blk71. It was interesting. We were instructed to come up with a wallet for ourselves.

The first step was to brainstorm and draft a wallet for oneself on paper. I drew a credit card with a universal sim card chip on it. The card can be kept at the back of a phone. The rest payments will be handled in the phone apps. That was a pretty futuristic wallet.

The next step was to get interviewed by a neighbour who just drew his/her ideal wallet. I was interviewed by a Korean manager from JFDI.asia. The neighbor was supposed to make the wallet for me. He first let me share my ideas and concerns. Then he asked me to take out my current wallet and categorize the necessary items. It turned out that there are quite a lot of necessary items in my wallet and they definitely cannot fit into one single card. Some items like coins and keys also need extra spaces to squeeze into a wallet.

The next step was to interview the other neighbour who didn't interview me in the previous step. This neighbour believed that his current wallet is the ideal one. I asked him to take out his wallet to see what are inside his wallet and whether any items can be removed. Then I asked him whether there are any pains or inconvenience about his current wallet. It turned out that there are two problems: 1. He puts his name cards together with reminder teasers and band aids. These small items sometimes drop out when he take out the name cards. 2. When he travels to another country, the cash height sometimes is different from Korean cash. The Singapore dollar is taller while some other cashes are shorter.

Then we were instructed to abstract and summarise the needs.  My neighbour wanted a wallet which 1. has an extra small pocket to put small items. 2. has an adjustable cash layer to fit different height of cashes.

After that, we were given a paper to draw down the solutions for the neighbour and then briefly introduce the design. The Korean manager designed a very good phone case with its cover as a wallet. It turned out that there is already one existed commercial product named bookbook which is very nice. I myself designed a basic wallet with two additional features specially made for my neighbour.

That was not the end. We were actually given some minutes to really make a prototype out with some raw materials like scissors and color paper. Time was tight and the process was fun.

After making the prototype, we were instructed to listen to feedbacks from the client. Unfortunately, most of us didn't give critical feedbacks. Instead, we "haha" with each other's prototypes.

Then came the time for showcase and sharing. I shared two points learnt during the process: 1. No need for futuristic stuffs, things that fix problems will do. 2.Doing is somewhat more important than thinking

That was a fun experience. After the activity, I bought the phone case on Amazon together with some design thinking books. There happened to be an ongoing course named "design for everyday things" on Udacity. I found design thinking a really useful skill for industrial people.



Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Bit Unmotivated

Last two blog posts have been deleted because they are company related and the Prof is not comfortable to reveal them to the public. I also feel unhappy because my last month's blog count becomes zero. To me, idea worths nothing, but team is the key. Many entrepreneurs think in that way. But it may not be the same case in the academic/business world.

Unfortunately, I've got no life besides the project, thus I can only write about that in my blog. Just to bear in mind not to reveal the key documentaries of the company.

It's been painful weeks when we are in a state of transform. The lack of a clear project plan and consolidated vision brought many unnecessary mistakes. Now we started to talk to real customers and test ideas in real use case scenarios. However, the fact that we focus too much on the complexity of the features instead of light-weighted MVPs makes it too heavy to lose. A cooler approach would be to come up with multiple mini projects for market testing and then choose one main stream leaded by the users.

I started to realize some problems of building a company in SG. One big problem is the flexibility of employees. People are too free to job hop and there are a lot of easier ways to make money. Another problem is the conservative mind of some old generation people. Those people can mostly act as an investor or a business parter. When young people are very energetic to try out new things and explore opportunities in new environments, they might not be supportive. Kids normally learn most when they are given more freedom to fail heavily and try again and again. Now I feel less enegetic and optimistic when others who are not necessarily more experienced are controlling too much. I also start to understand why many hackers choose to build games as a favorite form of creativity.

Being a niave student, I wasn't smart enough to distinguish between good and bad people when I haven't seen many bad people in the school life. Now I start to find out that most relationships in social and working life are bonded by business relationships. That is not cool any more. I start to find myself being influenced by the business world as well. When one of my best junior friends flew back home at midnight, I didn't accompany him to the airport just because it'll be inconvenient and costly to get back. However, another junior friend accompanied him even though it will be very costly. People shall never trade friendship with business. Unfortunately, as we grow up, we lose innocence.

That's it.