Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Design thinking to solve bigger problems than selling more stuff

Ive been interested in the guys at sidekick studios ever since Asi announced his new job over there earlier in the year. I think their point of view is amazing and they have created some awesome products/ services that start to address some pretty big problems that our society is dealing with now and even more so in the future. I was lucky enough to see the head of Sidekick Adil Abrar at the Google Firestarters event last night where he talked through a product/service that they had developed for people with mental disorders.

It really struck a cord with my on a multitude of levels. I have been quite interested in design thinking for a while following the likes of Tom Hulme over at Ideo who I have seen present before on the topic and who funny enough presented at a previous Google Firestarters,. The agile process of identify opportunities, creating prototypes and continually adapting to refine is very interesting from a work perspective and has huge possibilities for all types of innovation. But what really caught me about last night was tackling bigger problems. I have a very close family member who has mental health problems that I have to deal with for a large percentage of my life. As Adil went through how they addressed the problem, the failures they had, how they adapted and in turn refined the product to cater for the needs of the three users. I started to realise the assumptions that we all make in life, but also the assumptions made at work with the feeling of comfort behind research and numbers. Which can often completely miss the actual reality of the situation. The explanation of the process he went through and how close it the problem he was addressing is to me personally really brought to life the power of design thinking in a very practical way.

What really struck close to home is that his observations also helped address some problems I have had with communicating with this family member. So not only does his product start to address the issues of mental disorders, but also his observations could help all the people involved in the lives of people with mental disorders. Family, friends, therapists etc. Really tackling the problem head on... not just creating a product that could make a slight dint in the issue.

It also made me realise ... maybe Im not tackling big enough problems.


adil abrar said...

hi, adil here. glad you enjoyed the talk, and even more so because of the personal dimension. not enough people talk about mental health, yet its the one condition we all have at some point. looking forward to the big problems you solve.

mikej said...

cheers adil

Ill let you know