Empathy & Wallet Blog

Honestly, I was a little frustrated by the wallet exercise.  I was interviewing a “customer” that clearly felt as though he had no need for a new or improved product.  While I saw opportunity to assist him in my eyes, this was clearly not the exercise and would not be a viable approach for product innovation.  However, in reading the material for this week I decided that the empathy phase as presented in the class room setting was not ideal to what we were trying to get accomplished, at least with my partner.  I think the flaw in my example was that my partner knew the end state and therefore drew conclusions/answers to his situation because he knew the questions.  The design thinking process guide stated “the best solutions come out of the best insights into human behavior”.  Much like the article indicated, I think my partner had already begun the filtering process in his mind.  The article also mentions the paradox that I face each day in my real job — people don’t always behave the way they say they do (or even the way they think they do).  While not especially practical to the classroom setting, I think I would have gotten further if I had instead observed my partner in a variety of settings and watched his behavior as it relates to his wallet in order to better empathize.

“Forget B-School, D-School is Hot” seemed to be more like propaganda for Design Thinking than practical application of the concepts.  The table that explains why D-School is way cooler than B-School completely ignores that fact that as useful as design thinking may be, it is an additional skill set that completes a portfolio of stodgy economics and financial accounting practices.  I was glad to read that the d.school “doesn’t award degrees” in that there isn’t diploma for this discipline.  However, the article did indicate that the popularity of design thinking was going in that direction with programs such as the M.B.A./M.A. in Design Leadership at Johns Hopkins and Maryland College or the master’s degree in Strategic Design and Management at Philadelphia University.  In an era of “online degrees” this curriculum could contribute to the dilution of M.B.A. and other graduate level certifications – “murky” to say the least.  I completely see the practical application of this theory as an component or elective within a traditional program either as a more creative approach to business or more economic approach to arts.  I also see real value as a “boot camp” or corporate leadership program.  I am very excited about the course and benefits I can take back into the workplace, I’m just not ready to “Forget B-School” just yet.

I work in the field of category and consumer insights for a manufacturing company that is trying to enter more into the arena of consumer package goods.  While either definitions can sell the same exact product, the approach is completely different.  I recently took this position from a similar role in a very progressive and advanced insights team.  The challenge that I am having is that while the concept of customer and consumer centric design is not new, this company just hasn’t made the paradigm shift.  They need to alter the thinking to break away from a cost plus mentality and move toward a philosophy that integrates not only the business viability, but includes learning and applying the technological feasibility and adding the element of people’s needs — desirability.  I’m hoping that this course helps me add value not just in the consumer data mining aspect of my responsibility, but in the design thinking of the organization toward a common goal.