Tag Archives: Swapna Kishore

Why Design Thinking Is Here to Stay

Design Thinking Wordle

Why Design Thinking Is Here to Stay

by Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik

The Design Thinking framework is being increasingly adopted by organizations of all kinds. Individuals and organizations are investing their time and money to learn and apply it to solve complex problems. But is Design Thinking something really useful, and is it here to stay, or is it just a new label and a passing fad?

As such, the principles behind Design Thinking have been evolving for years. Design Thinking combines these into a usable set, complete with principles, methods, tools and processes which make Design Thinking effective for solving complex problems and for creating useful products and services .

When we look at the world around us, it is clear that we need better approaches to handle real-life problems. The situations we face are complex, and systems are more interconnected and entangled. Our traditional design-and-development approaches created tightly-bounded solutions in isolation; these are not effective in today’s situation. It is also wrong to assume that only expert designers can know what is most suitable for everyone.

Let’s see how the key elements of Design Thinking make it suitable for solving complex problems.

Design Thinking is Human Centered

Design Thinking looks at problems impacting real people and then evolves solutions to create a better future for people. Design Thinking places heavy emphasis on understanding user behaviors in their real contexts, user-driven evaluation of design alternatives, and creating enhanced user experiences.

Design Thinking uses systems thinking

In Design Thinking, problems and solutions are understood and evaluated in terms of the interrelationships between components of the system and also their relation with other systems. This systems thinking approach also looks at short-term and long-term sustainability of the solutions (e.g., environmental impacts).

Design Thinking requires collaboration

According to Design Thinking, ‘all of us are smarter than any of us.’ The collaboration involves the core design team, the users, developers, engineers, experts, and other stakeholders. Even the work environment — workplace, meeting rooms and infrastructure and tools — are all set up to enable and encourage more team-work.

Design Thinking is also Design Doing

Lego Build
The framework encourages the design team to make solutions ‘tangible’ as quickly as possible. For this, they create prototypes, paper / cardboard models, videos, stories, and scaled-down working solutions, so that the solutions can be evaluated using as many senses as possible – visual, auditory, tactile (touch), etc. Design Thinking encourages the team to run “loose and lean”, in order to “fail fast to succeed sooner”.

Tolerance for ambiguity is embedded in Design Thinking

Evolution of Cars
In Design Thinking , the team does not start with fixed ideas on the exact nature of the problem, or how the solution will work. The approach is to start with a vision and a direction, but without an exact destination or the path, with the confidence that one will end up somewhere great!

The Design Thinking framework is open and evolving. It is not proprietary to any organization. Academia, consultants and practitioners all over the world are constantly adding to its body of knowledge. They share success stories. Design Thinking  continues to evolve and improve and there is no “entry barrier” involved.

The openness of Design Thinking is supplemented with a growing base of experienced Design Thinking users (individuals and organizations). Lots of well-known and well-respected organizations have whole-heartedly embraced the concepts of Design Thinking. These include Apple, GE, Google, SAP Labs, Nike, HP, IBM, P&G, and Infosys. This, in turn, means that more and more individuals and organizations will be open to trying it out, and it will spread and evolve even faster.

Design Thinking has absorbed and assimilated suitable practices from various disciplines and methodologies that have overlapping elements. Examples are Agile methodology, Ethnography, User Experience, Human-Computer Interaction, and Systems Thinking.

Most importantly, Design Thinking is particularly effective for tackling what are called “wicked problems” (see Wikipedia). It has moved beyond initial days when it was used to design products like cars, phones, and cameras.

“Wicked problems”  are problems that are hard to understand and defy solutions. Such problems are increasing as the world becomes more complex and connected, and has multiple stakeholders who may have conflicting and unrecognized needs. Examples of wicked problems are found across many domains like health-care, urban infrastructure management, water resource management, pollution, and global warming. For example, ‘how do we get kids to improve their physical activity?’, ‘how do we handle solid waste in a city?’, ‘how do we make sure that the government subsidies reach the deserving?’ Design Thinking is able to provide creative, effective, out-of-box solutions because of its emphasis on  human-centric and holistic approach, and early availability of usable systems to gather feedback and refine solutions.

We believe that Design Thinking is here to stay for the long run. What do you say?

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the authors :-).

Probability/ Stats Puzzle – 1

This problem was presented to me by Swapna (my wife) on last Friday – I could not work out the right answer even after considerable struggle.

You are participating in a TV show contest. You have reached the last round. If you win this round, you get take home a pure gold brick of 5 KG (5KG = 11.02 lbs); if you lose you have to take away an equivalent quantity of stinking garbage.

Here is the problem in the last round:

There are 3 closed boxes (let us say B1, B2, B3). Inside two of the boxes is garbage. Inside one of the boxes is the gold. You have to open one box and take home whatever is in that box. You decide to open B1. The show-host/ quiz-master asks you to stop, and as a hint opens one of the other two boxes, and inside that box there is garbage. The show-host gives you the option of changing your choice. Would you still go for your original choice or switch to the other unopened box?

Three Boxes


Here are some relevant assumptions/ hints/ guidances:

  1. Most important: you would prefer to take home the gold instead of the garbage :-).
  2. You will not be able to smell the garbage or gold without opening the boxes, or in any way be able to “know” what is inside the unopened boxes.
  3. You do not know the show host’s motivation. The show-host may be trying to help you or trick you, or trying to increase hir (his/her) popularity rating, or just following a script. So, do not consider the show host’s motivation in trying to solve the problem (when Swapna presented me the problem, I went on the motivation track, and could not approach it as a problem of probability, even after she told me to ignore the show host’s motivation 🙁 ).
  4. There is no “trick” in the problem or the solution – so, approach it as a problem of probability/ statistics.
  5. Do not be lazy and search the internet to find a solution. That is cheating. I have changed some things in the problem so that is not easy to search. However, this is not a test of how quickly and ingeniously you can search the internet.
  6. You will have to work out the reasons for your choice, not just make a choice. The reasons are more important.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get the answer right, many renowned statisticians have got it wrong.

The answer is available in another post here.

Please share your views in the “comments” feature available.


You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook

Till a few months ago I had not registered the fact that I could read ebooks on other devices (like my laptop) and didn’t need a Kindle device. This was in spite of my wife’s constantly telling me so for years.

Last month, though, the coin dropped and I took aside an hour to set up my laptop to read Kindle ebooks. Then I felt that it may be worthwhile to have a blog entry on this topic because I suspect there may be a few (or many?) others like me who dismiss the very idea of reading Kindle ebooks because they don’t have a Kindle device. So I invited my wife, Swapna Kishore, to write this post for AlignMentor

[Brief intro: Swapna Kishore is an author of technical books and speculative fiction. She also maintains a comprehensive website to support dementia daregivers in India. She blogs here.

Over to Swapna…

Read Kindle ebooks within minutes on your laptop, mobile, or tablet – by Swapna Kishore

The world of instant information is just a few keystrokes away now because we can buy and start reading ebooks within minutes –  the latest books from across the world. Amazon, for example, has a vast number of ebooks in its Kindle store.

But wait…are you availing this opportunity? Or have you brushed it aside saying, “I don’t have a Kindle (device).”

Because, you see, you don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook. You can read Kindle ebooks on your laptop, mobile, tablet, or even in your browser. It takes just a few minutes enable any of these devices to read Kindle eBooks. Really.

A quick way to understand this is

  • A Kindle e-reader is a physical device that you can hold in your hands. You can use it to read documents in a number of formats. You can read Kindle ebooks. You can also read other stuff (PDF files, DOC files, etc., depending on which Kindle e-reader you have). You can also do other tasks, but that’s irrelevant for our discussion.
  • A Kindle book (ebook) is an electronic counterpart of a book. It is the digital version of the book, a file using a particular format. You can read this file on any device that can interpret the format and display the content (the book). A Kindle ebook can be read on the Kindle e-reader device.  And if you install the appropriate Kindle Reader App (software) on another device, a Kindle book can also be read on that device.

So, if you want to read a Kindle ebook on your laptop, it’s easy – install the app for your version of Windows or Mac, and then use it to read ebooks. The process is the same for other devices; Kindle ebooks can be read on your laptop, smartphone, iPad or Android device, or even your browser.  What’s more, you can read the same book on multiple devices. Read it on your laptop. Then, if you are in the car (and someone else is driving it) and you want to continue, you can resume the reading on your iPad or iPhone or Blackberry. You can even synchronize to pick up reading at the point you left it. It’s that simple.

The download links and procedures for the required apps are available at the Amazon site. So all you need to do is:

  • Decide which device(s) you want to read your ebook on (your iPad? your Android device? your laptop? one device? more devices?)
  • For each device, download and install the relevant free Kindle reading app. Apps are free, and downloadable from Amazon (for Kindle ebooks). Check the Kindle section on Amazon for “Free Reading Apps”(currently here.)
  • Test it out:
    • Buy a Kindle ebook and make it available on the device(s) you want to read it on (using wireless or download and USB transfer). For testing the app, you can “buy” a free ebook: Check for Kindle ebooks, using Sort –> Price Low to High
    • Start the “Kindle reader” on that device and read the book

Now that your device(s) is set up to read Kindle ebooks, next time you can just buy the ebook, deliver/ download it to the device, and start reading. You can also read a sample of a Kindle book before you buy it. Every Kindle ebook is just a few clicks (and a few rupees/ dollars) away.

I have been using my laptop to read Kindle ebooks for over two years. In fact, I read ebooks from all ebook vendors on my laptop (they all have ways for you to read their ebooks on multiple devices). I bought a Kindle e-reader some months ago, and I use that sometimes, but even now, I often read ebooks on my laptop. (I can check my email and Facebook on the side, see 🙂 Or even draft a blog post like this one 🙂

And now, just in case you didn’t feel like reading the above:Kindle Device Schematic

Please feel free to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available at the top of this article/ post.

By the way, if all this has made you feel that you need to seriously consider a Kindle device, then click here.


Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the author :-).

Book reviews uploaded on the same blog: