Coming in a new country, with totally diverse culture, language, furthermore starting a University with different set of program, way of teaching and work may be difficult.
I still remember the first class of Design thinking, when Corrine (our lecturer) said: „Go out and find your mentor in a real world“. I was shocked! Really, literary shocked! But now, when a challenge appears I am jumping in it.
How I managed to change that much in basically very short time? (Only 9 months, without having a babyJ)
I will try to rewind now.
First and most important thing that I have learned is that there is no border, or if there is it can be moved, seen from a different angle, and used to make something new or at least something out of it. You just need to have guts to start dealing with it. I have not had that before. I was always thought to learn, to focus more on theory not on practise and that there will be opportunity one day to try all that. I agree and I think that theory is very important but having an opportunity to try what you have learned (before you forget half of it) and to realise that things you learn are real not just some words written in books is also important. By starting with this module I felt like a baby bird. When baby bird is learning how to fly it needs to let it self-down from the nest. It can be scary, but if they do not try on their own they would be eventually kicked out by their parents. On that way they are either going to learn or they or they are going to die, in this case fail the module. Two of those examples can be seen in the video under.
For that reason this module was great. It gave me the opportunity to try and to make something by myself at that exact time while studying.
Starting a company
Observing, finding a gap, making an opportunity, and not waiting for it to come.
There are couple of steps in design thinking that I have mentioned in previous posts and the first one of those is observing. Even when I was on the acting classes, years ago, we have been learning how to observe, how not to go through life unconscious. By observing we can see how many things are missing that no one else notice, not because they are not important, but because people generally does not how to perceive. As for everything in life finding a gap in the market, or the product/service that needs to be made, lie in the practise. The more you observe the more opportunities you will find. In addition always ask questions, even the most obvious one, such as why is something like that since the beginning, does it even has to exist, if it does how can it be different then now, etc. After you made observation from which you got the ideas goes research.
This part I didn’t like at all, only because in most cases the ideas you have come up with already exist somewhere. You just haven’t been informed jet. Even though if possible product or service that you wanted to make is previously made, the idea of it does not need to be looked as a dead end; it can be a starting point for something else, modified, or totally new. That’s where the importance of team comes in. The guidance we had on the beginning of the module is that teams need to be formed of at least one designer, one business person and technology person. I had an opportunity to see how important the variety of people’s different skills is for the successful business. I learned a lot how to work in a team and realise that I really like it. For me what is the most significant in entire business are people that are going to be with you in whole process, to share all company’s ups and downs, all successes and failures.
As in life generally it is crucial to have good and true friends around you to keep you normal, so with a business it is practically the same. You do not need to be friends but you all need to be honest with each other so that you can say what you think regardless of whether you agree or disagree with certain issue and you also and mainly need to respect each other equally. If there is no pressure in the team, everything is possible to be made. After those things are set up everything else gets easier. I have to admit I had luck. We manage to form team from 4 different sides of the world (Brazil, Columbia, Thailand and Serbia), all with diverse backgrounds and knowledge, and we manage to become good friends at the end.
The great video I have once been stumbled upon about the bad team meeting.
Prototyping for me the most exciting part!
It can be put as a cheap way of testing your idea and making it more developed, better settled established and more users friendly. Usually while prototyping you start with something and end up with something else. Because while making it, and then trying it, you have a clear picture what is functioning well and what not. Sam Summers said in the Nesta video of prototyping benefits that: “… it maximizes your chances for success.”
What I like also in this part is empathy toward customers. More on empathy can be seen here:
Putting yourself in the place of consumer, whom you are referring to and using a prototype in testing makes everything more easily. I would like to mention also the thing with testing that I found attention-grabbing is how from my experience things that I have been expecting from customers that are testing the products did not occur. Such as the thing that they would not like on the product or that they will notice, even though you think you think you are looking from a real customer perspective. Here is one of my favourite videos from TED about the design for designers that really nicely explain that not having the real customer to test your product.
Kingston University Trade Fair
Selling your product on a fair was a real challenge. Usually people, in this case mostly students just disinterestedly pass by stands on the fairs. I had the experience in selling products on fairs and having a web page as a product needed to involve a lot more work on a stand, and a very good pitch. Having a good pitch sells the product. On the workshop that we had before the Bright Ideas competition I have learned how to make an elevator pitch, which I have used afterwards on the fair and on any other opportunities that I had. What good pitch can do? It can sell your product, it can bring new investments into the firm, and it can also help me in my career opportunities. On this fair we got the prize for best sale in the fair, which gave us additional courage and motivation to work more. Since the three of us are international students and English is not our first language wining that price meant much more than just accomplishment in business.
Starting a company and being your own boss seems perfect, you can manage your time however you want, do not need to get up early in the morning, and you can take vacations whenever you want. All that can be true only if you are able to master time management skill, if not you will end up working more than you would if you work for someone else. Doing a MA course fulltime and running a company made me to deal with my problem of lacking time. I needed to work on time management issues more and more every day. I have been admiring people how they accomplish a lot of stuff in one day all the time, until I have realised that time management issue is something that you can deal with. It is not something that you are born with. One good thought that I have read made me more motivated and that is that the time and practise it is needed for things to become habit. Nothing happens owner night. So I started pushing myself every day from the small thing such having a diary, making and updating calendar, respond on emails right away not leaving them for tomorrow. I still realise everyday how much more time I have and how less stressed I am when everything is organised.
There is no successful business without god networks. One more thing that I have realised I over come during these couple of months is capability to approaching people. Whenever some event is happening after it was a part for mingling and networking. Among the crowd have usually been people with long business experience which came to give us a lecture and to talk about their knowledge. I was always thinking that I do not have anything to say to them, that they have not previously heard. Furthermore how do you make a first step? It is ok if there is someone who can introduce you but how do you approach someone by yourself. What works for me is preparation before the event, finding out more about the event and people that are going to be there, as well as the one that might be there. Knowing current issues that converser is involved in and showing him or her that you have a wish to hear their opinion, opens the conversation more. Mainly it can make furthermore a good moment to start pitching yourself. You have to have at all times prepared a pitch about yourself. Pitch that answers the question such as: Who you are? What do you do? What can you do for your interlocutor? Why you and not someone else? How can you been contacted? You will never know who else might be listening, or if beside the after event you might bump into someone important.
Finding a mentor in a real world was the opportunity to try all above mentioned things. Conclusion is that I would agree totally with a saying that you need only 3 links, 3 people to get to every person in the planet. Everyone is reachable you just need to try, you just need to make that first step and know what and why do you want it, what do you get from it.
Looking back now I have realise how much I have learned. I would not agree that last couple of months were easy, for me they were very hard. I was pushing myself over the limits of comfort all the time; I was provoking myself, testing and most of all I was always trying to accomplish more. I would say that it was not easy at all, but it was worth, every bit of it.
My main happiness is that I have accomplished my inner peace in a way that I am able now to focus more in what I want to do in life, and most of all, I know now that I can do whatever I want, nothing can stop me, except maybe myself. What I have seen in the begging of the course as a flaw, my un-focusness on one field, or on one industry, now I see as an advantage. Especially if I want to start my own company, which very likely is going to happen in near future. I just want to work more on one thing that is going to be my main but I still want to and need to know more about everything else. I need to keep and develop more an inner child in me.
- Ibbotson, P. (2008) The illusion of leadership. First edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Allen, D. (2001) Getting things done. London: Piatkus Books.
- Cottrell, S. (2010) Skills for success. Second edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Haynes, M. E. (1996) Make every minute count. Second edn. London: Kogan Page.
- Mann, T. (2004) Time management for architects and designers. First edn. New York, London: W. W. Norton.
- McGuinness M. Time management for creative people. Wishfull thinking [pdf] Available at: <http://www.wishfulthinking.co.uk/2007/12/03/time-management-for-creative-people-free-e-book/>