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We promote networking among alumni to strengthen business connections, promote new ideas and advance your career.
Ivanka Visnjic, expert in innovation and design thinking, began her talk in the ESADE Refresher Programme on April 26 by comparing the most highly acclaimed companies of 2007 with those of 2016. ''Whereas ten years ago these companies were General Electric, Toyota and Starbucks, last year they were Apple, Google and Amazon,'' she explained, and added that whilst in 2007 the main agents for multinationals were the workers producing items to meet consumers’ needs, today’s digital unicorns are looking for enterprising workers and active consumers.
According to Visnjic, technology is growing far faster than expected and companies must change their business model and focus on open innovation and customer-oriented solutions in collaboration with other companies. Workers too are confronted by a disruptive model that makes innovation a necessity.
''But how can we be more creative?'' Visnjic asked the audience. ''Here is the good news: creativity is not a mysterious talent but something that is acquired in 90% of cases, even if we are not taught to be creative.'' To demonstrate this, the professor invited the audience to take part in a workshop based on design thinking, a method for creating innovative ideas by understanding users’ real needs and providing solutions. This method, which originated at Stanford University, California in the 1970s, can be used to develop products and services, to enhance processes and to define business models.
The five phases in design thinking
1.- Define the problem.
2.- Empathise. Design thinking starts with a thorough understanding of users’ needs, i.e. the ability to step into their shoes. The customer journey map, or user experience, is useful because any given detail might provide crucial information and the critical points give a more accurate picture of the real problem to be solved. Ivanka Visnjic insisted on the need to ''find out about the problem before embarking on a possible solution'', so we can ask many questions and also observe a person’s nonverbal language.
3.- Brainstorming to generate myriad options. Effective brainstorming means working as a team (the more diverse the team, the greater the variety of viewpoints and knowledge), being optimistic and positive, not being afraid to make mistakes, and the ability to see mistakes as opportunities. Attitude plays a key role in design thinking because the most bizarre ideas are precisely the ideas than can break down mental barriers and help people innovate.
4.- Make the prototype. Once you have an idea, the next step is to build the prototype, i.e. to materialise the idea. ''Making a physical prototype provides the opportunity to test and improve the idea. Paper, projections, videos, storyboards, etc. Building makes people think,'' explained Ivanka Visnjic.
5.- Test. Finally, the prototypes are tried out on users. This phase is crucial and will help pinpoint major improvements, issues to be solved and possible shortcomings. This stage involves asking users for feedback and dealing with criticism.
See you there!
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