[WORK] Teaching Design Thinking in India

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Bengaluru, India for work. Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) is India’s third largest city and often referred to as India’s Silicon Valley, with many IT/technology firms headquartered there. Accenture has 150K+ employees in India (with roughly half in Bangalore).  It is incredible to see the scale of Accenture’s operations in India.

One of ~15 Accenture buildings in Bangalore

I was facilitating a three-day training session at Accenture’s India Learning Centre (our Asia-Pacific training hub). The course was on design thinking… helping our people to learn more about the design thinking mindsets and behaviours and understand how they can apply some of the methods in their own work.

My co-facilitator and I with the group

To accomplish this, we gave the team a challenge statement to anchor the course… “how can we improve mobility in Bangalore?” (Bangalore has notoriously terrible traffic). We took the group through a series of exercises so that they could learn some methods by experiencing them.

We started with territory mapping, a mind-map-type exercise that helps people come up with a shared understanding of the problem. Teams typically mapped out things like “urban planning & growth”, “lack of public transportation & funding”, etc. We next introduced user-research and interviewing by having the teams interview one another about their commuting experience. When they reflected on insights from this (short) interview experience, they started to realize the human impact (stress, lifestyle impact, etc.) and looked at the problem completely differently.

We covered ideation, prototyping and testing exercises with the team. Here the group came up with a variety of creative solutions, from infrastructure to technology to zoning to traffic / policy changes. It was great to see how invested the teams got in their ideas, particularly as we taught them about testing and the importance of getting feedback before you fall too in love with your idea. Unfortunately we weren’t able to implement these solutions as we were just using this problem to illustrate some of the methods!

In spending a little time in India, I got to experience some of the infamous traffic for myself! Thankfully I was staying next to the training site so I was spared the daily commute. However, on my second last night, I was transitioning to a downtown hotel and it took me over two hours to get a taxi (and then another hour and a half to cover the 15km drive). Despite the atrocious traffic, it was great to have the opportunity to explore Bangalore and see a city in the midst of massive and transformational growth.

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