What did we learn from young leaders, practicing for the first time?

We were motivated to speak to UCSI University about doing a taster for the Scholars Enrichment Programme, right after the social leadership modules from Active Citizens being delivered to over 200 young scholars. In those hours when unexperienced scholars were the participants and experienced ones were table facilitators, we witnessed flows of ideas and synergy between the groups, many of them were not afraid to speak up to the seniors and some were showing a deep sense of empathy towards their fellow friends on the floor. That was exactly the moment I thought, yes, if we could pass this on and empower the leaders of tomorrow, from the ground up, that will highly align with what Design Tinker sets out to do: Inclusive design thinking.

On the day itself, fifteen student leaders from seven student initiatives showed up and carried along their organisational challenges. Our goal on that day was simple, a pareto 80/20 on design thinking knowledge/facilitation. It was done this way so that everyone could go back and conduct their own workshops or at least to share the know-how on dissecting challenges, discovering insights to their fellow committees.

Before the workshop, we were wondering if we should continue to use the to facilitate the learning-by-doing. Eventually we cut down the reliance on the full stack of templates available online, and threw in a number of hands-on and mobile (out-of-the-building) activities for the group to experience a full-fledge journey. The goal of the day is to create the useful and meaningful wallet for their partners.

The 5 steps of unlearning what we learned

Men of the hour, had fun exploring each others’ sentimental belonging.

It was clear that during the empathy exercise, instead of asking “how do you use your wallet/what do you have in your wallet/how do you feel about your current wallet”, nobody actually tried questioning their partners when they do not care to bring their wallets. Right after the cue was given that they should also consider “WHY NOT”, many discovered previously-unknown insights and the a-ha moments actually did happen very early in this problem-solving exercise. We also observed that some took interviews too seriously, when they conversed in English instead of their native languages. When they started to share in the most comfortable setting, including how they were seated, thoughts were transmitted and received eloquently. While doing fieldwork, some were worried that they were not able to find enough consumers-wallets to observe, due to a Saturday in the campus. There were creative minds among the young tinkerers who set up the stage to buy themselves the green mermaid drinks, not to quench their thirst but to allow their partners to observe how transaction was made. Some went further to check out the ATM in the campus, rightly so because wallet is also involved when we deposit the money (into the wallet), aside from paying for the purchase (out of it).

What are the “needs and challenges” of the user(s)?

The definition and framing stage was carried out right after lunch, when the guys were recharged instead of presumed food coma. As young as they are, they probably have experienced more post-in moments than I had in my whole life, as I saw them quickly creating yellow magic canvasses on the wall to download all the findings. After the groups cross-examined the patterns, a quick 15 minutes was what they needed to iron out the most taxing problem to be solved. I was mindful that we all have our own definition of critical problem, and most of the time we should just let the problem solvers decide based on their understanding of available resources and interest.

When the teams were convinced about their choices of “personas”, whom they were going to create the solutions for, we arrived at the second diverging phase of the double-diamond, when each group launched themselves into the brainstorming trajectory to develop potential solutions. From a list of ideas, each group member were asked to choose one out of the pool, and sketch the products. This was done to give the designers more power to imagine and materialise the details, while paving the way for the next step.

The detachable, water-proof, sometimes sportive and once-in-a-while elegant wallet.

Prototyping and testing came hand-in-hand in the last phase of the workshop. It felt more like a ad-hoc but vibrant stage show, with each team had a talented storyteller leading the role-playing (courtesy of some accidental comedians) and seamless wire-framing of you-know-what (an e-wallet). From the raw models it was clear that many among the groups were trying to make a wallet that is useful for many occasions, especially those who want to exercise, walk the red carpet and buy groceries with the same wallet. The persona in spotlight was highly youthful, healthy and outgoing. The tech-enabled wallet though, called for more sophisticated collaboration of multiple banks, so that the users are able to withdraw, deposit and record each transaction for every bank account, entered through receipts or receipt-less purchase. Was this solution already out there, or is this too much to ask from the developers’ point of view? Well, you don’t have to the one, but every prototype is there for a reason to be optimised in the future.

The group observed the user testing through the “mini” wizard of Oz experience, backed up by the wireframes on the large screen.

If you are curious from where these guys below the age of 22 sought inspirations to build the prototypes, below are some insights from their empathy session (1 hour interview + 1 hour observation/immersion):

  1. Men are more drawn towards zipless wallets, while moms and girls are different in terms of their choices: Girls — zip wallet, Moms — big purse and small pouch combination (to separate the coins).
  2. Youth (and some adults) claimed to go out wallet free when parents are around. *You Know Why.*
  3. Generally a student’s wallet are filled with receipts, receipts and more receipts.
  4. At the ATM when withdrawing cash, some people would use the left hand (holding the wallet) to hover over the right hand when keying in the security codes.
  5. Wallet is no longer a must, money is more important.
  6. You would be surprised that most students are serious card-holders: student cards, library cards, privileged cards etc.
  7. You don’t change your wallet often, it’s a sentimental piece of memory.

And that’s more than 1 minute, see you tomorrow.

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