A not-quite-six-word story

Have you ever been asked to tell a story in six words? It’s an extremely powerful exercise. Go ahead, try it. While you’re working on that, here’s mine:

Three weeks here. Countless epiphany moments.

You probably have your own story by now. If you do, share it in the comments, and then allow me to get into my longer story. It starts with being committed, and the initial quote comes from everyone’s favorite green Jedi sage:

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

Bernie Roth, the d.school’s academic director and Rodney H. Adams professor of engineering, surfaced the relevance of Yoda's quote to the design thinking process for me.

Okay, let's move on. Next comes:

“Going all in.”

Before coming to the d.school, I had serious doubts about whether or not I belonged to this place.

On day two, we sat with David Kelley,  IDEO founder and Donald W. Whittier professor in mechanical engineering, for two hours. It became extremely clear to me, as he spoke, that I do indeed belong to this place. I was relieved. The d.school is about people who are going all in. In short: it's about people like me.

Being  Uncomfortable

A note on one of the d.school's many whiteboards. (Guido Kovalskys)
A note on one of the d.school's many whiteboards. (Guido Kovalskys)

Now, what about being comfortable. The d.school, at first sight, looks like a happy family living in the best possible house. Still, there is tension. Everything here seems to be set up to make you feel comfortable being uncomfortable.

Just look where people sit:

Try spending an hour-long seminar sitting on a foam block (left) or a bench (right). (Guido Kovalskys)
Try spending an hour-long seminar sitting on a foam block (left) or a bench (right). (Guido Kovalskys)

“Bong” goes the gong.

The d.gong. Seriously, it has a label that says "d.gong". (Guido Kovalskys)
The d.gong. Seriously, it has a label that says "d.gong". (Guido Kovalskys)

The gong, for me, works like this: Inevitably, it’s going to sound. We all know it. That knowledge drives us to create something we can show to the world when it is inevitably slapped. Even if our prototype isn’t perfect, it drives you to do something -- anything. Here’s the best part: We get another chance. We always get another chance.

Now, the most important question: Who am I designing for? I keep hearing the idea that having a deep understanding of your users leads to new perspectives. It’s a very powerful concept that sounds simple, but it takes time to get used to it and to fully embrace it.

If you ask me, an education entrepreneur, who I am designing for, the answer is easy: meet my son.

(Guido Kovalskys)
(Guido Kovalskys)