Reflective Essay

iytook in UK, 28.01.12

“If you never try, you never know”, for me it could describe the meaning throughout the entire procedure of Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship in Practice course. After several years of design working experiences, being curious is my first lesson in this course because it is a chance to experience different professional area. Even this module, which runs over seven months, has already finished. Nevertheless, it can express that is a new beginning for applying capabilities and knowledge and adapting complete complex issues for real business. The values of this course are inspired me to challenge unknown capacities and rethink any potential from everything. There is no doubt that this module is the most productive class from my whole Master course. From startup to Dragons’ Den and trade fairs, the practical experiences taught me creative thinking, communication and interpersonal skills are essential elements for diverse individuals or teams. In this reflective essay, I would like to mention about what I learnt throughout the two semesters.
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Finding a chance – Observation

There are three main key elements in design thinking throughout two semesters, observation, empathy and storytelling. It has influenced me for ways of seeing and thinking. In the very beginning, we started to create apps for our fictitious target clients. We made assumptions for our customers to narrow down the domain and notions. To be honest, I did not understand the meaning of start-up. As my first post, Let’s lean startup describes this process is similar designers’ creation procedure. Brown (2008) states that thinking like a designer can change the way you develop services, products, process and strategy. Furthermore, entrepreneurs can analyse, investigate and predict and possibilities from products and services, even their competitors through start-up experience. As Cassar (2012) states that startup experience improves entrepreneur prediction performance.

Researching and collecting resources are usually the first step within the entire procedure. Observation is the initial method that I have learnt from this module. There is no doubt that observation can assist people to discover any possibilities from other already existed products, ideas, services and environment. The mission of observation cannot depart from human. The ultimate objective of observation is finding something that we still can improve or recreate.
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Empathy – People first

Furthermore, empathy is closely linked and inseparable in design thinking. As Brown (2008) has indicated that empathy is one of design thinkers’ characteristics and take a “people first” approach to meet latent or precise demands. People usually stand with their perspectives to create products or perform their speech. Nevertheless, it easily makes ideas subjective and loses chances to absorb external ideas. We need to avoid this problem by ourselves. Sometime, I try to pretend that if I was the customer, what solution I am going to take or who I am going to contact. Suddenly, I find that people have different point to express what methods they are going to deal with. However, some of solutions are not solve efficiently. Hence, we can realise that we have found something we can try to improve.
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Prototyping

After observation process, implementation is an interesting part. Nice shoes will take you to nice places shows that we created shoes with readily available items within one hour. It was rough, but it could show our concepts clearly. Implementation process is that turning ideas into practical services, products and strategies. According to Fajardo, Rehm and Joffres (2012), prototyping assists design thinkers exterior requests in relation to usability, desirability and feasibility of their notions. It was really fun and challenged experience. Moreover, my young enterprise’s product, Isycase is also designed via this procedure. We have changed our prototype over eight times to seek best design for products after receiving feedbacks and advices from audiences and leather manufacturers. I experienced different mistakes and tried to modify and correct it. I think that I studies not only in class, but also in real business.
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Get attention – storytelling

When people listen a story, they usually look like children who concentrate on the plot. Allowing people to accept novel ideas, products or services is the main purpose of storytelling. The content of stories can infiltrate audiences’ mind slowly to influence their concept and subconscious. The most important influence is to draw the biggest audiences to listen the speech. A good storyteller can attract the biggest and attentive audiences (MSLGROUP, no date). It is clear that is a communication skill to promote messages and notions. During the Dragons’ Den, my team used storytelling to explain our product pitch. The skill was really useful to express an idea within limited time. As Brown and Wyatt (2010) state that storytelling through multimedia can assist communicate the solution to diverse inside and outside stakeholders, especially across cultural and language barriers. I enjoyed creating a play to describe our products and business journey.
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The power of social media

There is no doubt that humans’ living is full of social media. Pew Research Centre (2013) reveals that 67% of American online adults use social media, especially Facebook. Users can directly communicate with audiences for sharing messages, opinions and receive comments. The most important value of social networking tool is to establish internal connections. The differences of these tools’ function may be purpose and immediateness. Twitter, Delicious and WordPress are main tools in this course. It was the first time that I used these tools and, I was confused for using Twitter. However, I think that Twitter is more useful for my business now, and can assist me to gain recognition more than Facebook.

In addition, I has used WordPress to build a company website. WordPress, which is a personal publishing platform, has over 66,000,000 sites in the world (WordPress, no date). It is clear that WordPress conforms a main key point, personality because they provide diverse themes to customers. Moreover, showing personal qualities and attributes on social media can become personal brand and receive more recognition. Different people can search online to find talented individuals. I tried to write my thinking and ideas on my blog; however, it is really challenge for me. The reason is not about language, it is about words. I usually use a lot of pictures with short sentences to show what I want to mention.
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Boost outcomes – Teamwork

Effective teamwork results from a team whose spirit based on trust, mutual respect and helpfulness. The outcomes are not only affect internal relationships and benefits, but also can extend their reputation. For inside segment, individuals can learn one another and promote themselves to build strong network. Sharing specific knowledge and capabilities can build links and cross boundaries (Bilton, 2007). Our young enterprise, Navigators is consisted of different backgrounds and two Master courses’ students, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and India. It could be argued that the advantage is our products would be merged by various ideas. It has often been claimed that culture is the biggest barrier in a team. However, I realise that appropriate attitude, behaviour and communication skill are the most important elements in a team. Regardless of teammates who have working experiences or not, attitude can estimate this individual’s behaviour and personal quality. In the beginning, my team’s operation was frustrating for me. We faced teammate changing, inactive person, slow efficiency, production problems and other related issues. Hence, trust becomes a big problem for our team. Losing trust can cause the disintegration of company’s structure and outcome. Although, eventually we have solved this problem, I believe that this situation might occur in the future.

There are three essential components in enterprise, which I learnt from different cooperated manufacturers, promise, honest and trustworthiness. That may assist a company to increase benefits, enhance recognition and raise profits. Promise is one of extremely important component for business. It could demonstrate that this cooperation would be fail or not. It also can affect the company’s reputation. A study by Wang et al. (2010) state that company invisibly increases firm’s perceived value and draws big customers if company realizes promise. Trustworthiness is another essential factor for business. It is also important for individuals. When people trust another one, they can easily to share messages and receive different resources. I think that these components are also requested for people.
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Time controlling

If individuals or teams cannot control time, they may lose credit from other people. Time controlling can demonstrate several capabilities of arrangement and self-control. In Navigators, I think that we did not control well because we wasted times in the first semester a lot and our meetings are not efficient. Even we tried to decide the topics for each meeting, yet the outcomes would not be the same as we except. The first thing, which we need to alter, is to frame rule and schedule for teams. Then every teammate has to follow the timetable and allows revising the schedule purposely.
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Belief in yourself

Everyone needs motivation to strive for his or her aspiration. Having motivation can continuously remind people to reach their goal step by step. While our team was starting to run our business, I constantly revised my target and standard from external to internal parts. The reason is that my faced different risks and some things are difficult to change. I think that the motivation for a group, it needs to decide collective goals. It may encourage each person to transcend existed skills or knowledge. However, Ogden (2012) argues that skepticism about everything – it does not mean people give up on their core conviction, and it means test and research those main beliefs and assumptions, and they are worth for holding. I discover that I usually insist my concepts and methods, but I rarely think this question carefully and deeply. It may be a good idea that testing some knowledge before accepting and absorbing them. Then this knowledge would become mine.
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Do not be afraid of failure – Risk taking

Do not be afraid of failure, it is necessary of the way for success. In fact, I still learn that do not be afraid of failure till now. I faced with frustration or depression in this process of young enterprise. Although, our team eventually has solved different issues, yet I think that some problems still are existed. People are afraid to fail because they feel depressed, and worry having different barriers to block the path of success. However, the way to succeed does not usually stable in real life. I believe that we definitely can learn and improve from fail. As Robert Merton (no date, cited in Girotra and Netessine, 2011) has pointed out, it can be argued that companies create value by being better than other competitors from managing risk. While our team was running young enterprise, we faced different risks such as manufacturer changing, prototypes amending and team issue. I am not sure that I will not face similar problems again. Nevertheless, I think I could try the same solution and keep absorbing novel methods to deal with issues.
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Conclusion

When I would like to summary my study journey, it reminds one thing “myself.” Although I learnt and experienced the whole process, yet I am still conscious of my low capability in some areas. Nevertheless, fortunately I know that and I can find ways to improve that. For my future goal, I think these processes become extremely important for me. This knowledge will support me to become an appropriate manager.

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Bibliography

Bilton, Chris (2007) Management and creativity: from creative industries to creative management. Oxford: Blackwell.

Brown, T. (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008

Brown, I and Wyatt, J. (2012) Design Thinking for Social Innovation. Available at: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/design_thinking_for_social_

innovation/ (Accessed: 21 May 2013)

Cassar, G. (2012) ‘Industry and startup experience on entrepreneur forecast performance in new firms’, Journal of Business Venturing. [Online] Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2012.10.002 (Accessed: 24 May 2013)

Fajardo, G., Rehm, J., and Joffres, K. (2012) ’ Turning Design Thinking to Design Doing’, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 6 December [Online]. Available at: http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/turning_design_thinking_to_design_doing (Accessed: 23 May 2013)

Girotra, K. and Netessine, S. (2011) ‘How to Build Risk into Your Business Model’, Harvard Business Review, May [Online]. Available at: http://hbr.org/

2011/05/how-to-build-risk-into-your-business-model/ar/1 (Accessed: 22 May 2013)

Ogden, T. (2012) ‘Losing the Courage of Your Convictions’, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 10 August [Online]. Available at: http://www.ssireview.org

/blog/entry/losing_the_courage_of_your_convictions (Accessed: 24 May 2013)

Pew Research Centre (2013) Coming and Going on Facebook. Available at: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Coming-and-going-on-facebook.aspx (Accessed: 21 May 2013)

Wang, B. l., Tian, H. Y. and Chen, X. L. (2010) ‘The Study on Customer Relationship Management of B2B Enterprise Based on The Brand Promise of Customer Perception’, E-Product E-Service and E-Entertainment, Nov. 2010, pp.1-4

WordPress (no date) Available at: http://en.wordpress.com/stats/ (Accessed: 22 May 2013)

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