Beginners Mindset


I’ve been posed with an interesting situation with my blogging since ID has started trying out some new ideas this year. Each week we have a weekly reads article(s) and/or video(s), so this also means that we each write a blog post about our thoughts on the reads before coming to ID for our discussion that week. We have a lot of first time bloggers in ID, so these prompts are meant to help jump start their blogging activity by helping answer the “what should I write about?” question by actually providing the topic on which to reflect on.

Now I am not a first time blogger at this point. In fact I officially have over 400 blog posts now!!! So now I have the struggle of having my ID prompts on top of my daily thoughts that I want/need to blog about. Therefore, I’ve had an idea: I’m going to try and combine my want and need to create a new blogging challenge for myself where I just have to find the connections between my daily thoughts and my ID reads.

For this week’s reads we read/watched 4 different pieces all about what design thinking is.

  1. “What is Design Thinking?” Daylight. Youtube. Online.
  2. “What is Design Thinking?” Sean VanGenderen. Youtube. Online.
  3. “Solving Problems for Real World, Using Design.” Nicole Perlroth. The New York Times. December 29, 2013. Online.
  4. “Products of Design Thinking.” Nicole Perlroth. The New York Times. December 29, 2013. Online.

Similar to the situation with blogging, I no longer consider myself to be a beginner design thinker; however, I always have more to learn, so I’ve been trying to approach these reads with a beginners mindset.

It’s always interesting to me how design thinking has so many slightly different process names that all kind of cover the same basic principles. No matter where you go though, design thinking will always, at the core, be about empathy and working deeply and purposefully with users to discover their needs and make an impact on the lives of individuals and hopefully then greater masses. I really loved the way VanGenderen put it when he said, “The process provides a method and a unified language for multi-disciplinary collaboration leading to greater creativity and better solutions faster.”

This was a cool point to me because design thinking was kind of always around, but it didn’t really have a name for a while, and now it’s name and story are reaching new places that they never had before. The education world being one of those many new terrains. Stanford always is amazing me with their d.School. Even after going there myself last spring, I still can hardly imagine how much great and awesome stuff comes out of there from the college students and professors.

The two classes that I have heard a bit about and always am amazed by are the classes “Launchpad” and “Design for Extreme Affordability” (disclaimer: these may not be the exact names, but that’s what I’ve heard them to be called). The Launchpad class is a class where students develop and introduce a product in just 10 weeks! One of the more well known products that has come out of this class was Pulse which is an app that was actually just bought by LinkedIn for $90 million. The Design for Extreme Affordability class, rather than having the challenge of time, have the challenge of money because they have to design products with very limited resources. Today I learned about a brace for children with clubfeet called Miraclefeet that was designed for under $20 that came out of this class! I just think that’s crazy amazing!!!

I must say thought, I know the d.School has some amazing products come out, but now I just am curious about the behind the scenes of these classes. I mean ow do they start these projects? I wish we got to hear the story of how the teams got their first ideas. Where did the questions and research all begin? What did the professor tell them on the first day of class? I love hearing about the end and the impact, but especially to connect to the work we are doing in ID, I would love to learn more about the beginnings and what the students do to start finding needs and users.

Beginnings for MVPS high schoolers always involves a grade level retreat, which we just got back from today. It was a ton of fun, and similar to my situation with  ID blogging and reading on design thinking, I’ve done a lot of campy activities before, but again I try to go in with a beginners mindset. I got to go horse back riding, do a high ropes course (and make a record time by actually starting the record because the guy wanted to time me to have one), and do low ropes with some friends!

Sadly my best friend Marz got hurt pretty badly on her knees and we think she tore a ligament so my night actually went a little differently than others. My other friend Emily and I stayed with Marz because she couldn’t really walk, and we helped get her ice and elevate her foot and stuff like that. I have to give a huge shout out to a girl named Morgan in my grade because she was like a wizard nurse! She too has had some major knee problems in the past year, and apparently she asked some great questions while she was with doctors because she knew a ton about the human body. I honestly think she knew more than some AP Bio students even, because she just seemed so passionate about what she was talking about, and similar to what some of our ID reads people were saying, her field experience really helped her learn more. Imagine, what if part of a bio course was to actually go work with doctors and observe and ask questions to them about the human body?

I actually got to do the low ropes just this morning, but sadly no one really wanted to go. After some convincing though, we were able to at least get a group of 5 of some of my closest friends to go down to the course, which was really more of a challenge course as I suspected. A lot of challenge courses are very similar, and I am aware of this, but I still have so much fun doing them. I love the physical as well as mental challenge of getting your team to accomplish odd tasks. Our group was so small, and we are all so close, that we actually finished the course rather quickly, but I was just glad to do it at all.

However, while I really enjoyed how laid back and relaxed the retreat was, I kind of wished we would have had a bit more of a “traditional retreat experience” where they put us in random groups to do activities so we got that experience of working with people we wouldn’t normally work with and trying to build teams and trust amongst classmates. I love my friends and all, and I know hypothetically nothing was stopping us from working with new people on our own, but high schoolers tend to be more compelled when they don’t really have another choice. I was kind of looking forward to that part of the retreat and I don’t know if it really happened this year which was kind of sad even amongst the fun.

The challenge course and other activities were still tons of fun though and I’m glad that our school does this little team building tradition. This retreat in particular made me realize how I can put myself in a beginners mindset when I do challenge course activities, because while they are all similar, they are also slightly different. Design thinking is very similar in this sense, so in theory I should be able to put on that same beginners mindset hat. I shall try, and we shall see how that works. There is always more to learn, if you are willing to try and learn it.


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