The d-school, or Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking of UCT, runs the Foundation Programme every semester, gathering students from various faculties across all South African tertiary institutions for 12 weeks to tackle real-world problems.

Three months ago me and 5 colleagues embarked on a journey to study Design Thinking at the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking at The University of Cape Town. (HPI d-school UCT) The d-school’s approach is centred on the principals of design thinking: a creative, human-centred approach to problem-solving that has its roots in industrial design.

On the 8th of February, we had an orientation that has set the tone for the rest of the programme. They gave us a broad overview of the d-school and design thinking, making it very clear that the day was only an introduction.

we were divided into groups, each under the guidance of a d-school coach.

As soon as we were in our team workspaces – with everything on wheels – the work began. We had to “mind wash”… This was a life-changing moment for because I come in with expectations and I had to unlearn quickly in order to learn new things and we did a team activity (Check-in) which was a car, yes a car and the profundity of that is they said “in this car what part are you in-car” you get to see yourself in this the vehicle and it pushes your leadership character out, psychologically I don’t know how and that it also gives your team a clear view of what type of a person are you and how do you function a team space.

We also learned the power of ’Storytelling’ most people/companies they normally do formal business presentation… but Storytelling it gets the message across to your audience and we were taught that doing storytelling you getting your audience to empathize with you and reflect and to see what you telling them through your “Story” and it has its magic because people quickly relate to a story than an actual formal business presentation. And I took that because whenever you want to get the message across always go for “Story” because that’s where people relate with you that’s where you get to be one with your audience.

We’ve learned that the design thinking methodology

The more diverse your team, the richer your understanding of a problem will be, and so too the research and solution/s. While we all wore the d-school name tag as students, our diversity meant we were able to present numerous solutions, none of which were the same and none of which were wrong.
Spend more time on the problem. All of us are faced with problems every day. Often, we feel the pressure to respond and provide quick fixes. But spending more time on the problem, on why it exists in the first place, can help us solve it once and for all.
Listen to the user. If you’re creating something – a physical structure, a process, a policy, a website, your user must be at the centre. And you need to clear your mind of any assumptions and any idea that you know the answer. During the day’s exercise, there were instances when we thought we knew the answer but when we listened to the intended user, we realised that our assumption was not useful to them.
Learn to say “yes, and”. Instead of shooting down someone else’s idea, build on it. See the value in their idea and see how you can grow it together. And be open to having your ideas expanded upon.
Design thinking is for everyone. All of our skills and experience proved useful. What I lacked, my teammates made up for, and vice versa. I don’t know if design thinking will feel accessible to everyone everywhere but certainly, at the d-school, you know you are capable.

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