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Pull the trigger… May 14, 2009

Posted by johnshinozaki in Uncategorized.

What is design thinking and how can I make it a natural part of myself?

To me, when I hear the explanation of the design “process,” it seems so simple: observe, define, prototype and test.  When I see the design “process,” it’s an exoctic, carnival act.  My goal is to keep the carnival act going non-stop, and it comes down to me just pulling the trigger.

Six months I trained in the colorful d.school prototyping ideas in minutes, saturating the whiteboards with user empathy, shouting EUREKA!, shredding failed ideas, laughing with teammates, yelling at teammates, telling stories in front of audiences, “The Future of VISA!” or “The Future of Journalism!”  But all this, it only happens in the d.school.  I can’t figure out a way to take it out with me into the world.

I’m a satellite engineer by profession.  I work in one of hundreds of cubicles spanning from building to building.  When I go to work, I put my bag down, wake up my computer, sit down, put on ear phones, play pandora, email and CAD away.  With satellite reflectors, although a complicated piece of engineering, it’s tough to experience innovation when time, money, and science keeps you only making small incremental improvements.  The only carnival act I get here is juggling my tasks of emails, vendor requests, blueprints, CAD work, analysis, etc. day in and day out.  And there’s hardly an audience to watch me dazzle it up or jumble it up with whatever I’m doing.  It’s just me in my cubicle.

Know that I have tried to figure out ways to bring the d.school act into my work place, but the world of the d.school, so colorful, energetic and fresh does not mix with the world of the satellite corp, so gray, precise and old.  As soon as I walk into satellite corp world, I forget about my d.school background, all 6 months of it – gone.

How can that be?  Am I still ignorant of the true design thinking process?  Am I a coward?  Do I lack the creativity, smarts and courage to make it happen, or does it just not work in satellite corp world?

Well to find out, I’m pulling the trigger.  Every idea, insight, feeling I get about how to make the carnival work, I’ll pull the trigger.

“John, pretend your cubicle walls aren’t there and just talk to your neighbor about your work!  Collaborate with him!”

(I started it this week, and it’s becoming like a live verbal twitter feed between my neighbor and me.)

“John, even though you are not as good or experienced as the other satellite engineers, don’t be afraid to suggest ideas!”

(Today, at a meeting, I spoke up, a rare  act of me….suggested an idea to protect reflectors…manager ended up liking my idea.  Awesome.)

“John, why aren’t you attempting to do design thinking outside of class and work?!  Start your own gig and take it on the road!”

(Tonight, I sent out emails to people in Computer Science and the Law School about assisting in creating collaborative environments with them.)

As you can see, I pulled the trigger and my carnival act is on the road.   This is me and my style in bringing design thinking wherever I go.





1. dennis Boyle - May 14, 2009

great self reflections john

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