Collaboration, Conversation, and Creativity

One of the overarching lessons that I’ve learned through the module over the course of the semester is the value of collaboration and teamwork. Most of the design thinking techniques we’ve learned have been meant to be used within a team. Most of activities and exercises we’ve done have been in groups. We are designing a product/service as a team. It is hard to only operate individually within applications of design thinking, because design thinking is human-centered it revolves around collaboration.

During my undergraduate courses I always preferred to work individually rather than in a group. However, in the business world, especially working within the creative industries, most of what I do will be group work. Because of this, I’ve really enjoyed and valued all the learning I’ve done about what it means to work as a team and how to operate individually within a larger group.

At the beginning of the semester our course director Janja said that creativity is a conversation. I’ve come to understand this statement better and have realized that the conversation can be with anybody and everybody. Innovators and creators are constantly having conversations with their teammates, their social groups, their potential customers, and the global environment.

One of the things I’ve struggled with this semester is talking to my potential customers. I find it hard to strike up a random conversation and to ask the right questions. However, human-centered design thinking has taught me not to approach people as potential customers, but as fellow humans. In a Poets and Writers article (Tuttle, 2018) I read Susan Orlean, a successful staff writer and The New Yorker, says “an ordinary life examined closely reveals itself to be exquisite and complicated and exceptional, somehow managing to be both heroic and plain.” Orlean goes on to say that she calls her approach to talking to people ‘the democracy of curiosity,’ which is based on the fact that the people you interview know more about their own lives than you ever will.

Therefore, even if you are creating a product/service and you have done extensive research on the customers within that market, you still don’t know anything about how that product/service affects them on a personal level. This is why surveying can lead to such biased and limited results–because surveys are based on what the company already knows or on research that has already been done. In order to truly innovate using design thinking you have to learn what you don’t already know, not just hear it repeated by potential customers. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But it’s not. That’s why true innovation is so valuable–because it’s truly new.

References:

Tuttle, K (2018). ‘Talking to Strangers,’ Poets & Writers.

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