Lessons learned while working with IDEO.org

Great lessons I have learned working with IDEO.org in the past couple of months. Essentially it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it rewired my brain. If you are in the social impact world, take note(s) but this is equally important for you if you are running a product based startup even if has nothing to do with the social impact world.

(1) Spend enough time to understand the problem

When you are off to solve a problem, try to spend as much time as you can on the problem. Einstein said so “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions” and this makes so much sense now because at the root of problem-solving, you will notice that people often do not spend enough time probing what the problem is. That’s where you need to concentrate the most and spend 90% of your brain power.

(2) Talk to the user

When I say the user I don’t mean the person or the end user of your product or solution rather anyone or everyone who comes in between. Usually when you are building a product or a solution, you would have more than just 1 group of users, some of which will not be the consumers but ecosystem players and when you are building your product its important to talk to each and everyone of them.

(3) Get feedback from real people

Don’t underestimate the power of feedback. I have seen happen in the development sector in Pakistan (which is mostly the reason why the whole sector is so screwed up). You can’t make decisions for thousands of people sitting in an air-conditioned room based on a baseline survey that you did, that’s just plain wrong. You will have to leave your comfort zone and talk to “real” people who are going to use your solutions and get real feedback for them if you want your thing to work.

(4) Don’t judge people and their ideas.

The crazy ones are indeed “the misfits, the rebels…” but they are also the ones “who think they are crazy enough to change the world” and actually do so. So when brainstorming about solutions and fixing problems, defer judgement and try to think as crazy and wild as possible and encourage people working with you to do so.

(Bonus) Consult the Field Guide for HCD

If there’s one book that has found a permanent place in my bag, it’s the Field Guide to Human Centered Design. There’s a free copy available on this link http://designkit.org/resources/1/ but I would encourage you to buy the hard copy and keep it with you at all times.

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