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.”
Meanwhile, the little exchange with Prof. Avanija eventually led to a full fledged 2-day workshop alongside Dr. Shankar Venugopal (Vice President, Mahindra & Mahindra). The structure of the workshop was as follows:
|Part 1||Intro||45 mins|
|Part 2||Empathize-I||120 mins|
|Part 3||Empathize-II||60 mins|
|Part 4||Analyze||60 mins|
|Part 5||Solve||120 mins|
We gave some mock scenarios for the mix of students and professors:
|An out of town student|
|A differently abled student|
|A demotivated student|
|A very shy brilliant student|
|An exceptional prodigy|
The participants had to empathize with this type of users/customers. Later, they had to also think of solutions.
What do two facilitators do when they have half a day free?
Shankar and I finished a sumptuous lunch and had half a day to kill. That’s when we decided to explore the temple city and guess what we saw - a Telugu movie where the protagonist made empathy his business model (How apt for the premise of a Design Thinking workshop!). I understood about 20% of the dialogues maybe, but empathy is beyond language, correct?