Is or Isn't?

Is or Isn’t is one of the core conflicts that everyone deals with. For example, “It is Monday or it isn’t Monday”.

Radically different, correct?

What if you wanted to find out if a wheel of a high speed train is cracked or not? The question to ask is - Is it or Isn’t it cracked?

But, how does one find that out without breaking that wheel? Simple solution - use a sound wave that no human can hear, but only those dangerous cracks can hear and reflect.

This sound wave is present, but isn’t going to harm the wheel. Cool, eh?

Now that I have your undivided attention, I am happy to tell you that Shyamsunder Mandayam not only bought my book, Karmic Design Thinking, but he seems to be impressed with the contents of the book. So much so that he invited me to give a talk on Attaining Innovation Nirvana through Design Thinking to the Indian Society of Non-destructive Testing (ISNT) on May 1, 2021, between 4pm and 5pm IST.

ISNT, of course, has many other techniques up their collective sleeves. Check them out at https://isnt.in.

The details of my talk and the joining details are here - https://isnt.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ISNT-BNG.WEBINAR-01st-May-2021.pdf.

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I can't find a suitable book, so let me write it for you - SVEC Tirupathi

In September 2019, I got an email from Prof. Avanija from Sree Vidyanikethan Engineering College, Tirupathi. The gist of the email went something like this:

Dear Sir, can you please recommend a good book on Design Thinking that we teachers can use for teaching and may also be useful for the students to learn from?

When I read this, I was surprised, since so much of literature and books have been written on the topic of Design Thinking. So, I did a basic search for a book on the leading libraries of the world. It is not that I didn’t find any books. I didn’t find a book which could go alongside an academic course.

So, I responded.

“Dear Madam, you are right. Currently, there seem to be no books which match your requirements. However, are you willing to wait for 3-4 months?”

Avanija Madam kindly agreed to my weird request.

What I had in mind was what I learned from the writer community - “If you don’t find a book you want to read, write it.

Little did I realize that it would take 6-8 months and 7 iterations with my professional editor - Anita Nagarajan. The end result is here: https://dt.balaramadurai.net

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Design Thinking Faculty Development Program organized by CET, Trivandrum

How do you get to know about the life of a security guard of a University? What does their day look like? How can we help them stay focused on their job while making some of their troubles go away? I wasn’t thinking of these things. A professor, in my Design Thinking Faculty Development Program (FDP) organized by CET, Trivandrum, was wondering about these questions. When he heard about the phases of Design Thinking from my latest book Karmic Design Thinking - Empathize, Analyze, Solve and Test, he thought this was the best way to learn. He practised what I preached ☻. The empathy exercise led to some startling conclusions like the number of hours, this man (The professor had tracked a security guard who was a man) had to stand without a break, the kind of climactic conditions that they had to endure. He even supplemented the study with a few pictures for us to see what was it like to be a security guard.

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Teaching Teachers - There is always a first time - TCET Mumbai

I have been taught by so many teachers and I owe everything I’ve learnt and achieved to every teacher that I have come across. No, this is not a “Happy Teachers Day” post. 😁

So, how do I teach people whose profession is to teach people? Will they find my teaching methods as immature? Will they take me seriously? Doubts running in my head.

More than a year ago, Prof. Lochan Jolly from Thakur College of Engineering, Mumbai, reached out to me to hold a workshop on TRIZ. Almost instinctively, I agreed. Just as an afterthought, I asked about the level of proficiency of the audience. That’s when the good professor hit me with the news - The room will be full of teachers and professors.

Contradiction - I love the experience of being in a room and helping people apply TRIZ on a problem they care about. But, since I had never taught teachers before, I would probably hate the experience of worrying about if I was doing a good job or not. Talk about love-hate.

Right? Nope, wrong. The teachers were wonderful, so much so that I felt at ease. Not only that, I felt I should have suggested a two-day workshop instead of a one-dayer.

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Dunkirk - A Technology Forecasting analysis

Dunkirk, a movie by acclaimed filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, has three merging story lines. It is an intriguing World War II plot and tracks three soldiers.

When Prof. Dmitry Kucharavy and I launched a course on Technology Forecasting on NPTEL, it struck me that one of the topics in the course is so similar to this movie. The topic was decision making. There are three types of decision making - Strategic, tactical and operational decision making.

Tommy (the foot soldier), Dawson (on the Moonshot), and Farrier (on a Spitfire, fighter plane) are the three merging story lines in the movie.

Strategic (long term, but unpredictable), Tactical (Medium term, but part-predictable), Operational (Short term, but fast-paced) are the three types of decision making modes.

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Attaining Innovation Nirvana through Karmic Design Thinking

Indian thinking, western philosophy - This is how a colleague of mine, Prof. Mukul Joshi, from FORE management school, New Delhi, described my treatment of design thinking (https://dt.balaramadurai.net). He invited me to give a talk to the students of FORE management school located in New Delhi about this topic. I was not sure if I would use the same phrase to describe Design Thinking. This is a philosophy, yes. This is a way of thinking, yes. But, can we attribute a certain geography to these? I wasn’t sure.

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Technology Forecasting for Strategic Decision Making - MOOC on NPTEL

Prof. Dmitry Kucharavy and I are happy to announce the launch of a new MOOC on NPTEL on Technology Forecasting for Strategic Decision Making. How to strengthen strategic decision-making with reliable technological forecasts? Numerous quantitative methods are available for predicting future demands and short-term changes. These methods, however, have limited application for such a question. The need is to combine the advantages of qualitative methods and explorative qualitative methods for long-range technological forecasting.

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No, I didn’t always wanted to do that. Title the post with a complicated number. Go ahead and copy this in to your favorite search engine and find out what it is and come back here and read the rest of the article. After that, you will have to figure out how this number is related to Kinderspark, the recently concluded innovation fest for school children conducted by Mahindra & Mahindra. Here is one more thing of intrigue - how is a Marvel superhero related to the whole thing?

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Design Thinking Faculty Development Program organized by MNIT, Jaipur

How do I conduct a workshop for over 100 professors from all over India? Added to the complication is the fact that this was an online workshop. I will not be able to meet them face to face. From the audience standpoint, how are they going to remain engaged to a person so far away, physically, in a subject, they probably barely heard about? Well, all my fears about keeping them engaged dissipated from my first question to the audience itself. Where are you logging in from? This one question kick started our conversation. Thanks largely to the enthusiasm and energy of the 100+ professors, by the time the session ended, we were virtually in tears. I learnt so much from them when we ended our 4th session together the next day. Thanks to Prof. Harlal Singh Mali and his team from Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur for his tireless efforts in arranging this workshop.

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I believe I can fly - Lighten the load to get a new idea

I recently read this article on lightening the load to fly (article link given below). I couldn’t help but sing along “I believe I can fly” by R. Kelly, one of my all-time favorite songs.

When we think of product/service ideas, we always think of adding features, adding this, adding that. But, a more powerful approach, is to remove or lighten.

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