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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 ( 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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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.

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Ajeenkya D Y Patil University talk on Design Thinking

On 13th Aug, 2020, I interacted with students from the Ajeenkya D Y Patil University, Pune. The talk is part of a Start to Scale talk series to help students scale up their business idea. In my opinion, design thinking will go a long way in helping early stage startups in understanding their customers.

Let me tell you two startup stories: Quick Fire, Slow Burn and Quick Try, Sure Improve.

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DONE Telling stories - a lengthy, but effective way of communication

Recently, I came across a TED talk on storytelling1 and I forwarded the link to my friend. His response to that was in the form of a question, “Bala, why do you like stories?” This post is a reply to his question describing the reason I like stories. I won’t disappoint you, I do have a story in there…

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Design Thinking - A Primer (MOOC Open for Registration)

It was August 2011, a few months before I quit the company, a gentleman tossed a question at me, “If I lose my job as a Java programmer to a computer which will write Java code by itself, then so will you. Without me, who will you teach?”

I had merely applied one of the trends of technology evolution and showed the participants of my workshop a demo that they would understand. Code that might write itself.

I had by no means hinted that I was going to fire him. But, I thought about this for quite some time.

Who will replace professors, trainers and consultants?

It is better that I replace myself rather than someone else, so I decided to record it all into a computer and deliver it as a course.

So, here goes. I am very glad to announce the launch of an online course on Design Thinking on an online platform called NPTEL - National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning. I am co-teaching this course with Prof. Ashwin Mahalingam from IIT, Madras. The course is available at The course is now open for registration and we will start in Feb 2019. The wonderful folks at IISER, Pune, hard working people at NPTEL, my creative teaching assistant, Siddharth Maturi and his buddies - Nithin, Sam and Suprativ helped us with making this course possible.

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Bugs Bunny and His HR Problem

These students from the HR division (Team Bullseye) submitted the following story (based on a true story) as part of their course on design thinking. They used the Karmic Design Thinking methodology. I found it very entertaining and educating. Their selfie of the entire team which wrote this piece is on the way. Pigeons take time to deliver messages, you know ;) I had fun reading this. Hope you do too!

Once upon a time there lived a rabbit named Bugs Bunny. He was employed by Mr. Kangaroo who ran a carrot cultivation farm. Mr. Bugs Bunny was very hardworking and dedicated employee and always loved to give his best. One fine day when he was picking up the carrots, his assistant, Ms. Chipmunk came running to him informing him that his mother broke her back after a monkey on the tree accidently dropped a coconut on her. She was immediately hospitalized and Bugs Bunny rushed there.

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Customer Journey Map - View Point Of A Beginner

Vivek Swaminathan is my student from the MBA Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune, India. He is my first guest blogger. Hope you enjoy the post as much as I did!

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Courses I Teach Students

“What is it that you do?” a dreaded question for people who are on their own and are pursuing multiple passion, dimensions, projects and goals. Check out these videos on why this is such a dreaded question for people like me. If you are one of those people who dread this question, may be you’ll like these videos that I have to share as part of this post. Another one who clarifies this subject is this man - Adam Leipzig in a jovial TED talk.

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Karmic Design Thinking - Part 3 - Defining Structure

To refresh on stuff - Rethinking Design Thinking and What is Karmic Design Thinking were things that I talked about earlier. The broad design of this form of design thinking consists of these four stages: I. People Orientation (or System Orientation) This is the stage in which we acknowledge the deficiencies in the system and try and find out about what is it that people are going through. Or if it is a device or a service, our job is to figure out what is it that this system is doing.

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Karmic Design Thinking - Part 2 - What is it?

The “Aahaa” moment that design thinking is probably much older than only a few decades. That moment came to me when I traveled to an ancient set of Buddhist caves in India. These caves are located in central India and are at least 2000 years old. Ajanta caves, as they are called, were lost to humanity for about 1000 odd years before a British soldier rediscovered the caves in his hunting expedition.

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