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GE Global invited talk on Design Thinking: The Zen Way


Dr. Srinivas Chirravuri and Gautam Goenka, are seasoned facilitators from GE Crotonville, the learning bastion of GE. In these times of online meetings and webinars, Dr. Srinivas, or Ch as he prefers to be addressed, and Gautam have thought of a series of enlightening topics. One of the topics they had chosen for such a session was Design Thinking. Ch reached out to me and from the outset, we wanted the talk to be a bit different from other webinars that I had given in the past.

Here are a few things we tried to do differently:

  1. interactions with the 500+ crowd from 60 odd countries.
  2. Teaser through asking people to guess the connection between Zen and Design Thinking.
  3. Interview and exchange of ideas between the facilitators (Ch and Gautam) and me.
  4. Practical examples of the application of Design Thinking

The broad structure of our interactions was:

  • What (context of a business)
  • Why (do we need Design Thinking)
  • How (has Design Thinking been applied)
  • Now, what?

The talk was mainly about the apparent correlation between Zen philosophy of the Four Noble Truths and the steps of Design Thinking - Empathize, Analyze, Solve and Test.

One very interesting question in the session was - Why don’t we reverse the order of the processes of Design Thinking? Do the Tests first and then the development.

Ch, Gautam and I summed up the session with our personal learning (triggered by that interesting question) -

“Design Thinking is ’thinking’ with our hands”

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