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Ask the Design Thinking Doc - Learn problem solving from Patema


In February 2022, around Valentine’s day, I saw a few Japanese movies as part of a Japanese film festival -

Of the 4 movies I saw, one that turned my world upside down was Patema Inverted (サカサマのパテマ, Sakasama no Patema).

What’s this got to do with Design Thinking, you ask. In the solve stage of Karmic Design Thinking, one can use “The Other Way Round” inventive principle from the ARIZ/TRIZ toolkit. This is the core of the movie Patema Inverted.

Design Thinking, as a skill, can be learnt by practicing the methodology on real world problems. I run an online course on Design Thinking on a Govt. of India platform called SWAYAM where close to 40,000 learners have learnt Design Thinking already.

What I have got in return (apart from lots of love 😍) is the variety of questions that have been asked by so many curious learners. This Ask the DT Doc series can be helpful to anyone – a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner of Design Thinking. (Also checkout for the book on Design Thinking)

This post will cover the question “Could you explain the other way round principle [to generate ideas]?”

The story is intriguing. Patema wants to explore her limited world, in spite of warnings from her friends and elders that the world is dangerous. Spoiler - She is the one who is inverted and there is an entire set of people who are “upright”, but of course, she finds them to be inverted.

Since gravity is inverted for Patema, she faces the real danger of “falling” into the sky and being lost forever. This is where she meets a boy called Age from the “other world” and with his help, she is able to explore the world. The bad guy Izamura from the “upright” world doesn’t want the inverted to mix with his upright people. The ending is amazing, if you get a chance to see this.

Why did I tell you this story? Check out the question for this post -


I understood the treadmill example for the other way around principle but i did not quite get how we applied it in the real life examples!

Or if you could give me a better real life example explain it, it would be helpful


Source -

My Response

Oh, treadmill is indeed from the real world 😁

How about this? Typically, a student goes to a teacher to a school/college or some sort of a building to learn something. However, NPTEL has reversed this for us. We, the professor, came to your home/office to teach you (through the Tube :))

We need to go to the restaurant to eat. Food delivery services bring the restaurant to your place.

Originally, there were stairs, where the person moved, the stairs were stationary. In an escalator, the person remained stationary, the stairs move.

Check all the principles out -


In summary, inversion is a great principle to solve several problems.

The other way round
If you have something go one way, try reversing - mobile to immobile, or, immobile to mobile
Analysis first
Always analyze the problem first before getting to solutioning.
Watch Patema Inverted
If you get a chance, watch this movie till the end.

Picture Source -

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