From Problems to Solutions: The Art of Design Thinking

The Ashoka Foundation held a series of workshops as part of the Changemaker Schools Conclave on this weekend at the Vihara Innovation Campus. As part of the Changemaker Schools Conclave, the Ashoka Foundation desired to introduce schools to ways of assessing key skills including empathy, creative learning, teamwork and leadership in children. One of the short yet engaging activity was the “D Thinking Assessment Workshop” led by CKS this Sunday morning. While we hurried our ways to make it to work by 8 in the morning, it was a true delight to see workshop participants get engrossed with the topic of the day and come up with such interesting ideas. The workshop aimed at familiarising workshop participants with the idea of design thinking through problem solving. Interestingly, through several brainstorming activities workshop participants could push themselves to think laterally without even knowing that they were doing so.

Workshop participants introducing themselves

Workshop participants introducing themselves

Ideas on the approach to "Problem Solving"

Ideas on the approach to “Problem Solving”

To start with, all the workshop participants were asked to introduce themselves and define in one or two words as to what is their approach to problem solving. Just like every individual adopts a unique way to solve the problems he or she encounters in his daily life, workshop participants had varied thoughts on the idea of problem solving as well. Questioning, thinking through the problem, looking at different perspectives, discussion and reflection were some of the thoughts that workshop participants associated the idea of problem solving with.

Workshop participants were then provided with a very simple yet provocative challenge to think through -“Overexposure to Technology is hindering Social Interactions in the Home Environment” and identify the sub challenges within it. It was interesting to see the participants connecting themselves to the challenge and getting extremely engrossed in it. Limited interactions between members of the household, no time for family, losing the warmth of personal relationships, health problems due to the lack of physical activity and emergence of psychological and emotional issues due to the over dependence on technology were some of the sub challenges identified. The workshop participants were then distributed in mixed groups wherein they were asked to cluster similar challenges and identify the three most interesting ones to work with.

Workshop participants discussing the challenge in breakout sessions

Workshop participants discussing the challenge in breakout sessions

The next exercise was to engage participants in a process of solutioneering. Workshop participants were asked to think through solutions for the challenges they had prioritised through the previous exercise. Despite working in a packed schedule, it was interesting to see how these participants wished to work on all the challenges identified and came up with such out of the box solutions. No device time period collectively decided by children and parents, technology free planned family activities on the weekends, building a more interactive home environment, non negotiable family time, innovative products such as a salt dispenser with the router switch to invite all members of the family for dinner, travelling with family etc. were some of the solutions participants came up with.

Lastly, the participants were exposed to the theory of design thinking by CKS. Participants were exposed to a bunch of innovation diagrams that reflected design thinking approaches, often used by CKS in its day to day work. Participants were also enlightened on how they had been using the idea of divergent and convergent thinking throughout the workshop without even knowing it.

ashoka collage

This entry was posted in Design!publiC. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *