EMPATHY THE FIRST STEP IN DESIGN THINKING
Grand Valley State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:This paper introduces a process of cultural investigation before starting to develop international innovation experiences for students or faculty. The first step in the Design Thinking process as used by the Design Schools Stamford Potsdam and Cape Town is Empathy. In order to empathize you have to develop an approach and you need some time with boots or flip-flops on the ground. You need to understand the organization who wants your help in its own environment. The exploration of the organization is a key to helping with success. In Cape Town, the organization is a small and focused NGO. In the Caribbean Coast the University as four campuses and four extensions across six cultural groupings along numerous institutes and programs to service the communities of one-half of Nicaragua that is the Caribbean Coast.
The author is currently working with others on programs in Cape Town, South Africa and on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, known as the Autonomous Region of the Atlantic Coast. This is the methodology of investigation. First, try to understand what the organization or the university that is asking for help might want to achieve. This often needs quite a bit of clarification using things like sketches and as well as words and word pictures.
Second is a dive into the culture or the background of the people you might be working with. This should include academic works, as well as time with people, and lots of time to understand and process how they think, how does their language and culture affect their processing. It is very interesting in the case of the URACCAN while its mission clearly is to serve the communities of the huge region labeled the coast, its faculty is representative of the colonizing group or the Mestizos and so may experience the communities in other ways.
Third is time with the people who might benefit from any of the innovations to be developed. In the case of Cape Town this will mean getting out into the Townships as rough and tumble as they may be to see and experience in some way what life is like. Many of the people in a Township A may be afraid of those in B or vice versa. In such a case, cooperation may not be easy and more, they may live differently, experience the world differently.
Fourth is to investigate existing infrastructures or ecosystems in entrepreneurship and innovation. For example, in Cape Town, there is a sophisticated ecosystem for entrepreneurship but there does not appear to be an ecosystem of Innovation. That contribution may develop out of the work that is starting there. Conversely in the disperse locations served by URACCAN (eight Locations) there does not appear to be a strong ecosystem in either one. This may be an opportunity for the university to build connections.
The fifth component is putting it together in preparation to focusing on the innovation process that will be developed for the people who want it such as a University, Business, Non Profit or NGO, or governmental units. The paper will talk about the issues of focus you begin to think about innovation programs for education in new situations.
Keywords: Design Thinking, Innovation, Ethnography.