Daily Design Inspirations 32: Design thinking can help Swachh Bharat (#DailyDesignInspirations)

An excellent, timely piece in Livemint.com. Can we go beyond the hype and soundbytes and use Design Thinking to change the fortunes of the movement? Can Design Thinking be used to better reframe the problems, change mindsets, and come up with real solutions? 

Livemint: Design thinking can help Swachh Bharat

Amrita Chowdhury, 13th October 2016

As we look at the second anniversary of the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission, we cannot but acknowledge how far the conversation has progressed on the vision and yet how little the needle has shifted on the outcomes.

The difference is starker in our urban areas. Cities are the windows to the nation, where the most vocal residents reside and the most influential visitors arrive. Naturally, then, the Swachh Bharat Mission efforts in cities are critical in making opinions about the efficacy of the programme itself. Rural toilet construction statistics notwithstanding, what hits us most is visible urban waste and the crumbling waste management infrastructure.

But is it just that?

Read on.


Empathy. The Cornerstone of the Philosophy, the Principles, the Process of Design Thinking

I conduct Design Thinking talks and programmes quite frequently. And during most of my sessions, for audiences as varied as Finance professionals, Sales managers, HR leaders, Engineers and Designers, someone from my participants always asks me: “but isn’t the idea of creating solutions based on User needs common sense? A no-brainer? A piece of wisdom from our grandfather’s time?”

And my answer is invariably and emphatically “YES!”

And yet, when we dive in to understand the and apply Design Thinking, I see participants struggle to do exactly that. Immerse themselves in the User/Stakeholder’s experience. Observe, Engage, Watch and Listen, for clues and signs that tell of habits and behaviours, needs and interests, fears and desires. The critical “why” behind decisions and actions, the “what” behind causes and motivations.

Everybody knows the need for Empathy. Everybody understands the significance and implications of User-Centred thinking, before designing and solutioning. Yet, very few can practice it.

Because years, maybe lifetimes of conditioning, experiences, frames of reference and biases come in the way of objectively looking at data and facts, to take in user experiences for what they are, and not judge and prematurely evaluate. The conflict between what we think “we know already” and the surprising realities of “what we find” when we observe are not easy to reconcile with. We are not listening beyond the noises in our heads, and missing important clues that can help us make sense of the world. What Tim Brown at IDEO calls “sense-making”.

And yet, there lies the only way ahead. The ONLY way to Customer Centricity, to meaningful solutions and products, to real innovation. To counter assumptions and biases, and understand, really understand what really matters. That’s why we start with Empathise, before we can even Define the problem to solve.



To be clear, this focus on Users neither rejects nor diminishes the knowledge and experience the participants bring to the table. Subject-matter expertise is not only a critical multiplier of Design Thinking, it is also essential to developing meaningful, collective insights or points of view (as further source of data).

However, there is no alternative to Empathy and generating insights through Empathy research. And it is the cornerstone of not just Design Thinking, but getting better in life. As David Kelley puts it “The main tenet of design thinking is Empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same thing – building Empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help.”

Empathy helps us understand other people, put ourselves in their shoes, and only when we are able to do that can we see things from different perspectives. And that is what we need to solve their problems, and improve our situations.

Here’s a great video on Empathy. Empathy is something that can make us better as human beings. And also create better cities where we listen to citizens, schools where we listen to students, relationships where we listen to partners. Empathy is our sign of success as a race, and our hope for the future.


Daily Design Inspirations 25: Design Thinking in Prisons. (#DailyDesignInspirations)


The Latest In Prison Education? Design Thinking

The MakeRight initiative teaches incarcerated people empathetic design with the aim of reducing recidivism.


From packaging that prevents shoplifting to furniture that guards against thieves, projects originating from the Design Against Crime Research Center (DACRC)—a program at Central Saint Martins in London—offer clever design ideas to protect against crime. Its latest project has grander ambitions: change the way offenders think, and perhaps curb law breaking as a byproduct.

The DACRC’s MakeRight initiative teaches prisoners design thinking. While many prison programs teach technical skills—and, historically, have exploited incarcerated individuals for labor—MakeRight is meant to yield empathy through design.

Design thinking is a process that involves defining a problem, researching and observing behavior, coming up with multiple solutions, refining the solutions, choosing a winner, prototyping the idea, and implementing it. While critical thinking breaks down ideas, design thinking builds them up and benefits from having as many diverse solutions as possible.

In one of its first projects—run in collaboration with the National Institute of Design, a school in India—25 prisoners designed theft-proof bags, wallets, briefcases, and purses. They shared some of the (terrifying) tricks of their trade, like slashing back pockets so wallets slide right out, to inform the design of better products—in that case, a wallet with a thicker side so it catches on the pocket and doesn’t fall out.



Daily Design Inspirations 25. ‘CONCURRENCE’ Interview with Sudhindra V. Chief Design Officer, IBM (#dailydesigninspirations)

#Designthinking #Design #Innovation

“Design is not a job skill, it is a life skill, one that touches every aspect of your life. I believe that design is an attitude. When you’re a designer, you’re a leader; you’re creating a world, one that doesn’t exist yet. But design has also become a much-abused term. I believe designers should take the responsibility to make sure the essence of design is retained.”

Sudhindra V.’s brilliant interview in the latest Concurrence. Get your copy today! 


IDEO: Design Thinking Can be used to Develop the 7 Mindsets needed to Develop Solutions

Identified by Design Kit at IDEO, Design Thinking allows us to gain insight and yield innovative solutions for any type of challenge that we face by developing key mindsets. These Mindsets explore and uncover the philosophy behind our approach to creative problem solving, and show that how you think about design directly affects whether you’ll arrive at innovative, impactful solutions.Here they are.

Mindset #1: Empathy

What differentiates design thinking from other frameworks is that it asks users to start with developing empathy, to see things from the persepctive of others, those effected by the problem.

Mindset #2: Creative Confidence

Creative confidence is not about being a great artist or graphic designer, it’s about believing that you have ideas that can bring about a positive change and that you have the skills to see your idea through.

Mindset #3: Learn from Failure

Failure is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. Designing experiments, prototypes, and interactions and testing them is at the heart of human-centered design. So is an understanding that not all of them are going to work. As we seek to solve big problems, we’re bound to fail. But if we adopt the right mindset, we’ll inevitably learn something from that failure.

Mindset #4: Make It

Design Thinking brings in a bias towards action, and that means getting ideas out of our heads and into the hands of the people we are looking to serve. Using anything at our disposal, from cardboard and scissors to sophisticated digital tools. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you use, or how beautiful the result is, the goal is always to convey an idea, share it, and learn how to make it better.

Mindset #5: Ambiguity

The big gorilla in the room, the last of the VUCA horsemen. The world is becoming more ambiguous by the day. And Design Thinking, with the focus on Divergent and Convergent Thinking, can help find sense. Learning to take that step back and start with a beginner’s mind is key to creating sustainable solutions that will truly bring the impact you desire.

Mindset #6: Optimism

As Margaret Mead had said, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” Human-centred designers are persistently focused on what could be, not the countless obstacles that may get in the way. Constraints are inevitable, and often they push designers toward unexpected solutions. But it’s the core animating belief that shows just how deeply optimistic human-centered designers are: Every problem is solvable.

Mindset #7: Iterate

Human-centered design is an inherently iterative approach to solving problems because it makes feedback from the people we’re designing for a critical part of how a solution evolves. By continually iterating, refining, and improving our work we put ourselves in a place where we’ll have more ideas, try a variety of approaches, unlock our creativity, and arrive more quickly at successful solutions.

Great ideas…


With additional inputs from internet sources…

Daily Design Inspirations 21: Letter by two of the Greatest Jazz Musicians in the World reads like a course on Creativity (#DailyDesignInspirations)

I just read an Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists by two of my favourite musicians in the world, and undoubtedly two of the greatest artists ever – Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. In this letter, Herbie and Wayne, friends for over four decades, reach out and offer sage advice and more not to just musicians, but to creative people around the world. From their early days composing and playing together with Miles Davis in Davis’ Second Great Quintet, to branching out and flourishing in their individual endeavors, Wayne and Herbie’s contributions to the world of music have been nothing short of extraordinary. Together, they’ve won a combined total of twenty-five Grammys, and remain the finest examples of class, grace and dignity, and of course, extreme levels of professionalism and craftsmanship.

The letter lists the following as essentials for humanity, since, as they put it, the “thoughts transcend professional boundaries and apply to all people, regardless of profession.”



It is, quite simply, the most beautiful and inspiring thing I have read in recent times.

Here is the letter:



To the Next Generation of Artists,

We find ourselves in turbulent and unpredictable times.

From the horror at the Bataclan, to the upheaval in Syria and the senseless bloodshed in San Bernardino, we live in a time of great confusion and pain. As an artist, creator and dreamer of this world, we ask you not to be discouraged by what you see but to use your own lives, and by extension your art, as vehicles for the construction of peace.

While it’s true that the issues facing the world are complex, the answer to peace is simple; it begins with you. You don’t have to be living in a third world country or working for an NGO to make a difference. Each of us has a unique mission. We are all pieces in a giant, fluid puzzle, where the smallest of actions by one puzzle piece profoundly affects each of the others. You matter, your actions matter, your art matters.

We’d like to be clear that while this letter is written with an artistic audience in mind, these thoughts transcend professional boundaries and apply to all people, regardless of profession.

le-dialogue-fraternel-et-sublime-de-herbie-hancock-et-wayne-shorter-a-l-olympia,M160750FIRST, AWAKEN TO YOUR HUMANITY

We are not alone. We do not exist alone and we cannot create alone. What this world needs is a humanistic awakening of the desire to raise one’s life condition to a place where our actions are rooted in altruism and compassion. You cannot hide behind a profession or instrument; you have to be human. Focus your energy on becoming the best human you can be. Focus on developing empathy and compassion. Through the process you’ll tap into a wealth of inspiration rooted in the complexity and curiosity of what it means to simply exist on this planet. Music is but a drop in the ocean of life.


The world needs new pathways. Don’t allow yourself to be hijacked by common rhetoric, or false beliefs and illusions about how life should be lived. It’s up to you to be the pioneers. Whether through the exploration of new sounds, rhythms, and harmonies or unexpected collaborations, processes and experiences, we encourage you to dispel repetition in all of its negative forms and consequences. Strive to create new actions both musically and with the pathway of your life. Never conform.


The unknown necessitates a moment-to-moment improvisation or creative process that is unparalleled in potential and fulfillment. There is no dress rehearsal for life because life, itself, is the real rehearsal. Every relationship, obstacle, interaction, etc. is a rehearsal for the next adventure in life. Everything is connected. Everything builds. Nothing is ever wasted. This type of thinking requires courage. Be courageous and do not lose your sense of exhilaration and reverence for this wonderful world around you.


We have this idea of failure, but it’s not real; it’s an illusion. There is no such thing as failure. What you perceive as failure is really a new opportunity, a new hand of cards, or a new canvas to create upon. In life there are unlimited opportunities. The words, “success” and “failure”, themselves, are nothing more than labels. Every moment is an opportunity. You, as a human being, have no limits; therefore infinite possibilities exist in any circumstance.


The world needs more one-on-one interaction among people of diverse origins with a greater emphasis on art, culture and education. Our differences are what we have in common. We can work to create an open and continuous plane where all types of people can exchange ideas, resources, thoughtfulness and kindness. We need to be connecting with one another, learning about one another, and experiencing life with one another. We can never have peace if we cannot understand the pain in each other’s hearts. The more we interact, the more we will come to realize that our humanity transcends all differences.


Art in any form is a medium for dialogue, which is a powerful tool. It is time for the music world to produce sound stories that ignite dialogue about the mystery of us. When we say the mystery of us, we’re talking about reflecting and challenging the fears, which prevent us from discovering our unlimited access to the courage inherent in us all. Yes, you are enough. Yes, you matter. Yes, you should keep going.


Arrogance can develop within artists, either from artists who believe that their status makes them more important, or those whose association with a creative field entitles them to some sort of superiority. Beware of ego; creativity cannot flow when only the ego is served.


The medical field has an organization called Doctors Without Borders. This lofty effort can serve as a model for transcending the limitations and strategies of old business formulas which are designed to perpetuate old systems in the guise of new ones. We’re speaking directly to a system that’s in place, a system that conditions consumers to purchase only the products that are dictated to be deemed marketable, a system where money is only the means to an end. The music business is a fraction of the business of life. Living with creative integrity can bring forth benefits never imagined.


Your elders can help you. They are a source of wealth in the form of wisdom. They have weathered storms and endured the same heartbreaks; let their struggles be the light that shines the way in the darkness. Don’t waste time repeating their mistakes. Instead, take what they’ve done and catapult you towards building a progressively better world for the progeny to come.


As we accumulate years, parts of our imagination tend to dull. Whether from sadness, prolonged struggle, or social conditioning, somewhere along the way people forget how to tap into the inherent magic that exists within our minds. Don’t let that part of your imagination fade away. Look up at the stars and imagine what it would be like to be an astronaut or a pilot. Imagine exploring the pyramids or Machu Picchu. Imagine flying like a bird or crashing through a wall like Superman. Imagine running with dinosaurs or swimming like mer-creatures. All that exists is a product of someone’s imagination; treasure and nurture yours and you’ll always find yourself on the precipice of discovery.

How does any of this lend to the creation of a peaceful society you ask? It begins with a cause. Your causes create the effects that shape your future and the future of all those around you. Be the leaders in the movie of your life. You are the director, producer, and actor. Be bold and tirelessly compassionate as you dance through the voyage that is this lifetime.


Beautiful words, thoughts. And inspirations.

Design Thinking News: HBR: Design Thinking Can Help Improve Care for the Elderly



By 2050, the number of Americans over age 65 will more than double. Our current health care system is ill equipped to accommodate their growing needs. The challenge for health providers, payers, business, and government is to redesign services to address those needs.

In response, the tech community is creating an abundance of devices to monitor and motivate an older population to exercise, eat well, take their medications, and live more engaged lives. But to make a difference, these products must be integrated into the daily lives of the population and the daily workflow of health care providers. Design thinking — which one HBR author describes as “an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing” — can help do this. A case in point is using technology to assist the elderly in adhering to their medication regimens.

Adherence is one of the most intriguing and complex dynamics in health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40% of people over 65 take five or more medications per day. There is ample opportunity for them to be confused and overwhelmed. Researchers have shown even e-prescriptions do not fix this issue: Meta-analysis has revealed that more than 20% of first-time prescriptions for chronic conditions such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes are never filled. Medication nonadherence undermines even the best cost-saving and clinical intentions of evidence-based care.

Various solutions have been tried over the years, ranging from labeling the humble pillbox with the days of the week to internet-connected pill dispensers to simple reminder systems. None of these solutions is ideal since they require patients or caregivers to organize, combine, and synchronize the dispensing of numerous prescription medications.

To overcome these limitations, developers came up with software solutions. App stores have a wealth of smartphone reminders that allow users to create a daily schedule for their meds. At preset times, the app sounds an alarm. Most apps also show an image of all the pills to take at that moment, matching them to a database such as Pillbox, from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.

But in spite of developers’ best efforts, no app can prevent medication errors if it is physically disconnected from the dispensing mechanism. Ignoring for a moment the fact that some older adults may encounter difficulties using smartphones, reminder apps are at least two behavioral steps disconnected from medication intake. Users have to look for their pill bottles, take the right pills, and then inform the app that they have done so. Even a minor cognitive impairment makes this routine unreliable.

Internet-connected pill dispensers, which try to increase adherence by coupling reminder and dispensing actions, also have limitations. The dispensers have either cellular-connected caps that fit on a regular pill bottle or systems that replace the traditional pillbox with a dispenser that tracks the opening of the pill compartment or the amount of medication inside the bottle. While these systems represent an advance in preventing medication errors (such as an accidental overdose) and getting patients to adhere to their medication regimens, they are not without flaws. For one thing, most of them require setting up a smartphone app for communication, which makes them challenging for the elderly. Also, users are still faced with needing multiple medication trackers or needing to periodically refill pill compartments on the devices.

In our research and practice of health care for the aging population, we iterate on its design, observing patients as they consume new products to promote their health. We have observed the following requirements for improving the health status of the elderly:

Synchronization. Having multiple medications with different refill dates creates too much complexity. Patients are often tempted to wait until more than one medication needs a refill before returning to the pharmacy. Synchronizing the dispensing process requires taking into account all the various medications that the patient is taking — something that often is not done.

Personalization. Generate labels that are easy to read and understand, with larger, legible type or icons to illustrate dosing and schedules, and explicit instructions that incorporate graphics.

Reminding. Provide reminder cues that have a built-in reinforcement mechanism designed to enhance adherence.

Integration. Create a system around medications, devices, and digital reminders to help keep patients on track and engaged with their care, a system that seamlessly works with their lifestyles.

One system that meets these requirements is PillPack, a service that simplifies medication dispensing. (One of us, José, works for IDEO, the company that helped PillPack design its products, services, and communication. IDEO has a financial stake in the company, but José does not.) Users contact the service to have their prescriptions as well as supplements transferred to PillPack. Then a box with pills packaged in daily packs is delivered to users on a regular schedule. PillPack uses robotic lines to consolidate multiple medications into individual packs labeled by time of the day. It also takes care of refills by contacting prescribers before the last refill.

While PillPack was conceived as a hands-free, convenient service for patients, we think it can also increase adherence and reduce medication errors. Synchronizing the schedule for taking medication and consolidating multiple pills into single discrete packs reduces the chances of intake or dosage errors. Individual packs can be detached and carried outside home by patients according to their needs and can also function as a tangible reminder. PillPack removes most of the friction from the experience of taking medications, including picking up medicines at the pharmacy, contacting prescribers for refills, sorting medications into pill boxes, and managing multiple drug schedules. In addition, PillPack provides a free smartphone app to give users reminders that are triggered by time and location.

PillPack’s ability to consolidate patients’ medications into discrete packs with patient name, room number, and instructions could also help prevent medical errors in the hospital setting.

How do we ensure our elderly population is taking proven medications to alleviate suffering, treat disease, and promote health? By understanding end users and their environments, which is what design thinking is all about. Studying how patients consume their medications is key to generating better health outcomes. Design matters, especially for our aging population.


Rebecca Weintraub, MD, is director of the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University and associate director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. She is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and an associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

José Colucci Jr. is an associate partner and senior portfolio director at the design firm IDEO, where he researches the impact of aging on society and its implications for the design of products and services.

Daily Design Inspirations 19: Afghanistan’s First Female Street Artist (#DailyDesignInspirations)

The Huffington Post

Shamsia Hassani is the street art queen we’ve been waiting for.

Priscilla Frank, Arts Writer, The Huffington Post writes


A woman in a purple hijab sits playing the piano, a tear rolling down her cheek. She plays her solitary tune amongst a sea of blue skyscrapers, soaring above the cars that zoom beneath her unnoticed. This subject already wears her contradictions proudly — she is strong, she is vulnerable, she is graceful, creative, separate, sad. And yet, at least it seems, she calls out to no one, content to sit with her feelings and express herself creatively, freely, in peace.

This work of street art was made by Shamsia Hassani, widely known as the first prominent woman street artist in Afghanistan. Hassani was born in 1988 in Tehran to Afghan parents, eventually moving to Kabul to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in visual art. She currently resides in Kabul, where she turns the city’s walls into colorful canvases that spread a message of peace and hope to her community.


Through her work, Hassani hopes to present a different view of Afghanistan — one not easily equated with war and violence but beauty and art. “I want to cover all bad memories of war from people’s minds with colors,” she said in an interview with Street Art Bio.

As if Hassani isn’t taking on enough of a challenge, she’s subtly subverting dominant gender norms in the process.

I have changed my images to show the strength of women, the joy of women,” Hassani explained in an interview with Art Radar Journal. “In my artwork, there is lots of movement. I want to show that women have returned to Afghan society with a new, stronger shape. It’s not the woman who stays at home. It’s a new woman. A woman who is full of energy, who wants to start again. You can see that in my artwork, I want to change the shape of women. I am painting them larger than life. I want to say that people look at them differently now.”


Hassani’s subjects sometimes don burqa and hijab, customary Islamic garments that, in Hassani’s drawings, become playgrounds for shape, line and color to take on a modernist grace. Most importantly, the images refute some dominant Western assumptions, showing that there can be freedom within tradition.

“There are a lot of people around the world who think that the burqa is the problem,” Hassani said. “They think that if women remove the burqa, then they have no problems. But this is not true. I feel that there are lots of problems in Afghanistan for women. For example, when women cannot have access to education; this is more of a problem then wearing a burqa.”


Hassani creates a new work of graffiti approximately once every two to three months. While in the U.S. and much of Europe, graffiti is treated as a crime, the technique is embraced in Afghanistan. Hassani also teaches graffiti at the University of Kabul, where most of her students, in their 20s, are around her age.

Art galleries are scarce in the region, but barren walls are in abundance, making graffiti an ideal way to expose art to a wide, if accidental audience. However, Hassani does encounter difficulties creating work as a woman, and is often forced to confront an ugly majority that believe a woman’s place is in the home. Because of the struggles arising from sexist beliefs, Hassani developed a practice she calls “dreaming graffiti” — work made in the studio instead of on the streets. With this technique, Hassani uses digital images as her cityscape, painting over them to create a colorful landscape inside her mind.

Hassani is currently the artist-in-residence at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Read on for the artist’s descriptions of three of her graffiti series, “Secret,” “Birds of No Nation” and “Once Upon a Time.”



“I began this series by outlining the figures of women in burqas with straight lines and sharp edges, conveying a feeling of strength. Still, I wanted to show the secret beneath the burqa, which is that there is a real person inside. I wanted to remove the restrictions on women and the guitar represents her ability to speak up and express herself. It is red because the color is used to draw attention to important things in Afghanistan.”


Birds of No Nation

“Birds are constantly migrating to find food and shelter, they have no nationality because they find comfort in any safe place. I see this in the Afghan people as well, they are moving from country to country in search of peace and safety. It seems as if they have no nation like those birds. In this series, the woman is in a new area and she is feeling displaced because nothing is hers and so she does not fit in.”


Once Upon a Time

“The title comes from the traditional way of telling a story. My tale is of a woman living in the past and present at once. This woman has tried to free herself from her unhappy situation and so she is sitting above it all, looking in from the outside. The city view is in black-and-white, representing the way that we see the past, while she is in full color and in the present.”

  • Birds of No Nation
    Birds of No Nation
  • In My Heart
  • In My Mind
  • My Studio
  • Secret
  • Once Upon A Time
  • My City
  • Wall Los Angeles

Original post here